Van Niekerk clocks sub-44
OLYMPIC champion and 400 metres world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk delighted a packed stadium at the Lausanne Diamond League meet yesterday with a world-leading 43.62 seconds to win the men's one-lap event.
The South African won ahead of the Botswana duo of Baboloki Thebe, second in a personal best of 44.02, and Isaac Makwala, third in a season's best 44.08.
On a night when there were several outstanding performances, including two world-leading marks and four meet records. It was the South African who stole the show in the final track event on the programme. Van Niekerk, who, a week ago, had broken American Michael Johnson's world mark in the 300 metres in Ostrava, removed another record in Johnson's name as he erased the 43.66 stadium record set in 1996.
Running out of lane five and with the fast-starting Makwala making the pace hot out of lane seven, van Niekerk moved up a gear in the second 200m for a fine victory.
"I didn't go out fast in the first half, but once I hit the second 200m, I used Makwala on the outside to help me put on a show. Once I passed him and was close to the line, I eased up as I had a lot left in me, and with many more races left for the season, I didn't want to give it my all," he said.
The other world-leading mark came in the women's javelin as Sara Kola of Croatia, the Olympic champion, had a massive throw of 68.43m with her final attempt. Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic was second with 67.40m.
There were several surprises on the track. In the first event of the day, American Ashley Spencer, who failed to make the USA team to the London World Championships, upstaged compatriots Dalilah Muhammad and Shamier Little by winning the event in 53.90 seconds. Hometown girl Lee Sprunger was second in a personal best 54.29 while Great Britain's Eilidh Doyle was third in a season's best 54.36.
Jamaica's Ristananna Tracy, who hit hurdle seven and failed to recover, finished seventh in 56.23. Muhammad stopped after clearing the first hurdle while Little was sixth in 55.10.
Americans Sharika Nelvis and Jasmin Stowers were involved in a tight finish to the 100m hurdles. Nelvis won in 12.53 seconds with Stowers second in 12.57. Christina Manning, also of the United States, was third in 12.58.
World championship defending 200m champion Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands, had to fight hard to stave off a persistent challenge from Josse-Marie Talou of Cote d'Ivoire in the half-lap event.
Schippers prevailed in a season's best 22.10 seconds, just ahead of Talou, who clocked a personal best and National record 22.16. American Krya Jefferson was third in a season's best 22.34.
American Justin Gatlin overtook leader Ben Youssef Meite (Cote d'Ivoire) at the finish line to win the men's 100m in 9.96. Meite was second in a season's best 9.98, with Akani Simbine of South Africa, third in 9.99.
Christian Taylor, who has been dominating the triple jump all season, was upstaged by Cuba's Pedro Pablo Pichardo, who used his final attempt to produce the winning mark of 17.60m. Taylor of the United States had to settle for second with 17.49m while his teammate, Will Clay (17.12m), was third.