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Rio 2016: Wayde van Niekerk smashes Michael Johnson's 400m world record

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:47 IST

Usain Bolt may have stole the limelight at the Olympic Games on Sunday, 14 August, but take a bow for South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk. He ran the fastest single lap in history to win the 400 meters gold medal in 43.03 and obliterate Michael Johnson's 17-year-old record. What's astonishing is that he did this from lane eight, the outside lane. The 24-year-old world champion got off to a flying start only to improve from 200m to 400m. Niekerk bettered American Michael Johnson's 1999 mark of 43.18 seconds. Niekerk's previous personal best was 43.48s.

Wayde Van Niekerk has become the first South African to win an Olympic gold on the track since 1928

Nieker finished more than seven-tenths of a second quicker than defending Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada. James settled for silver in 43.76. LeShawn Merritt of the United States couldn't keep up and finished third in 43.85

"Oh my God! From lane eight, a world record," Johnson said on the BBC. "He took it out so quick. I have never seen anything from 200 to 400 like that." This victory was the first anyone has won an Olympic gold medal in the men's 400m from lane eight.

Van Niekerk, silver medallist at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is the first athlete to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, the 200m in under 20 seconds and the 400m in under 44 seconds. At last year's world championships in Beijing, Niekerk finished just 0.03 seconds outside of Johnson's world record.

Van Nierkerk is on pace to become the first athlete to run the 400m in sub-43 seconds in the near future. He so nearly did it at the Rio Olympics.

First published: 15 August 2016, 9:10 IST
 
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