South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk will face-off again with some of the men he ran away from to win the World Championships gold medal in Beijing, when he lines up for the 400m at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League Meeting in Zurich on Thursday (3).
Van Niekerk stunned favourites LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James to win the gold at the worlds recently when he ran a national record and world leading time of 43.48 seconds to beat the American and Grenadian, respectively.
He will be hoping to do so again in the one-off race at the Weltklasse Zurich and is favoured to repeat after some much-needed rest in preparation for the return of the Diamond League schedule.
James, the Olympic champion and the man hand-picked by several pundits to lift the world title in Beijing, has also been resting, having run just the open 400m and he too will start as a strong candidate to cross the line first.
Van Niekerk, Merritt and James all ran sub-44 seconds in the final at the world championships, the first time in history that this had been done in the same race and the Grenadian sprint star is hoping to put on another show for the fans.
“The first goal is always to put on a great show for the fans,” James, who just turned 23 said.
“I just want to go out there and do my best, represent my country well and just try to compete, these are going to be the same guys from the World Championships so I expect a very competitive, exciting race.”
Merritt won this event last year in 44.36.
The race in Zurich will see four men with times under 44 seconds facing the starter, while the rest of the field have gone faster than 45 seconds already this term.
Besides Merritt, James and Van Niekerk, Isaac Makwala of Botswana has also produced a 43.72 secs to join the party.
Dominican Republic’s Luguelín Santos, Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas, USA’s David Verburg and Great Britain’s Rabah Yousif, are also in the lineup.