BEIJING, China – Wayde van Niekerk pulled off a stunning performance to win the men’s 400m title ahead of LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, on Wednesday.
Van Niekerk came into the final with huge potentials, after running 43.96 seconds earlier in the year and the South African delivered another remarkable performance of 43.47 secs on his way to setting a national record, personal best and world leading time to win the gold medal.
The 23-year-old got off to a very strong start to build a lead heading into the home straight.
He then dipped into his reserves to fend off the challenges from American Merritt and James in the final metres to secure the title.
Defending champion Merritt, who took the field out with a fast opening 250m, finished second with a new personal best of 43.65 seconds, while Olympic champion James of Grenada was third in a season’s best time of 43.78 secs.
James, although missing out at winning the gold medal, made up for his disappointing seventh place finish two-years-ago in Moscow.
It was the first time in history that three runners were going below 44-seconds in the same race.
Olympic silver medalist and the bronze medal winner in 2013, Luguelín Santos of the Dominican Republic, set another national record and personal best when finishing fourth in 44.11.
Isaac Makwala of Botswana was fifth in 44.63, Rabah Yousif of Great Britain took sixth place in 44.68, while the rest of the field was completed by Machel Cedenio (45.06) of Trinidad and Tobago and Yousef Masrahi (45.15) of Saudi Arabia.
In another final on the track on Wednesday, Zuzana Hejnova of Czech Republic successfully defended her 400m hurdles world title with an impressive world leading time of 53.50 secs.
Americans Shamier Little (53.94) and Cassandra Tate (54.02) took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica, one of the medal favourites before the start of these World Championships, finished last in 55.47.
She looked to be still carrying the foot injury that has been affecting her training this season.
Elsewhere, Kenya’s Julius Yego threw a remarkable 92.72 metres personal best in the third round to secure the men’s Javelin world title, while his countrywoman Hyvin Jepkemoi took the women’s 3000m steeplechase crown in 9:19.11.
The women’s Pole Vault gold medal was won by Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, who did 4.90m to beat Brazil’s Fabiana Murer, who cleared an Area Record of 4.85m for silver.