South African Wayde van Niekerk, the 400m specialist powered home in the rain to defeat Akani Simbine in the men’s 200m dash at the 2nd leg of the ASA Athletix Invitational in Roodepoort on Tuesday (March 30). The victory is a step in the right direction for van Niekerk, who crossed the finishing line in 20.10 seconds in a slight wind-aided 2.1m/s, which was just above the legal limit of 2m/s.

Van Niekerk Surges Past Simbine In Closing Stages

The reigning Olympic Games 400m champion had opened his season with a 20.62 (-1.5 m/s) performance to win the event in Potchefstroom, on March 23, so this display on the wet track at the Ruimsig Stadium shows he is in good shape as he prepares to travel to the United States to join up with his new training group.

Lining up in the second heat of two, van Niekerk ran a conservative opening half of the race before switching gears in the closing meters to surge past Olympic 100m finalist Simbine, who came across the finishing line in second place in 20.29 secs.

Simbine, the 4th place finisher at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, entered the matchup with van Niekerk in great form, having posted an impressive 9.99 secs in a -3.0m/s headwind in Pretoria, last weekend (March 27), but he was unable to duplicate that performance over the longer sprint.

Tsebo Matsoso ran 20.48 for third place ahead of Sibusiso Matsenjwa, who clocked 20.52, while Isaac Makwala (20.59) Anaso Jobodwana (20.74), Chedrick van Wyk (20.93), and Ngoni Makusha of Zimbabwe (20.94) crossed afterward.

Van Niekerk On The Verge Of Joining Lyles, Miller-Uibo

Tuesday’s race could be the last for van Niekerk in South Africa for a while as he’s on the verge of traveling to the USA to work with the coach Lance Brauman’s Florida-based sprint group that also includes Bahamian Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and American 200m world champion Noah Lyles.

The South African owns the world record in the men’s 400m with an outstanding time of 43.03 secs, set en route to the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Meanwhile, also at the ASA Athletix Invitational in Roodepoort on Tuesday, 17-year-old Namibian sprinter, Beatrice Masilingi clocked a time of 22.59 secs to secure first place in the women’s 200m, but she was assisted by a trailing wind of +3.9m/s.

Elsewhere, Sharona Bakker from the Netherlands won the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.46s, beating South African champion Marione Fourie, who ran 13.49 for second and Kayla van der Berg (13.69) for third. Former world youth and world junior champion Sokwakhana Zazini won the men’s 400m hurdles in 50.13s and Renier de Villiers stopped the clock at a personal-best 1:46.83 to win the men’s 800m title. 

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