Wayde van Niekerk breaks 400m world record

South African also set 300m world record last week

South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk comes out of Thursday’s Diamond League event as the new world record holder in the 400 meters, finishing with a time of 43.62 seconds. That beats the previous record held by legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson, who was 0.04 seconds slower than van Niekerk. In this particular race, van Niekerk finished ahead of Botswanans Baboloki Thebe and Isaac Makwala, who finished in second and third places respectively.

After the race, van Niekerk said, “It is my first race in Europe this year and my first 400 meters. I didn’t come with a specific time in mind, but I am pleased with this result.” van Niekerk actually ran in a Wednesday IAAF event in the Czech Republic the previous week, just casually breaking the 300 meter world record as well. He set the new record at 30.81 seconds, erasing another Michael Johnson record from the books. Notably, Jamaican running legend Usain Bolt is now in third place in the 300 meters record times due to van Niekerk’s time. van Niekerk is now the first man to reach a sub-10 second mark in the 100 meter, a sub-20 second mark in the 200 meters, a sub-31 second mark in the 300 meter and a sub-44 second mark in the 400 meters all in the same career. He said that he will have one more race before heading for London.

Other Africans who excelled at the event included Ben Youssef Meite and Francine Niyonsaba. Meite, from the Ivory Coast, finished just 0.02 seconds behind first place finisher Justin Gatlin, who won the 100 meter event with a time of 9.96 seconds. South African Akani Simbine finished in third with 9.99 seconds. Out of Burundi, Francine Niyonsaba finished as the winner of the women’s 800 meter event, with Kenyan Eunice Jepkoech Sum in third place.

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