15 July 2015
Speed king Wayde van Niekerk joined an exclusive group of athletes when he became the first South African to dip below 20 seconds in the 200m in Switzerland on Tuesday.
Van Niekerk won the B final at a meeting in Lucerne in a time of 19.94 seconds with Alonso Edward of Panama taking silver in 20.03s and Japan’s Kenji Fujimitsu bagging bronze with 20.13s.
After losing his South African record to Van Niekerk in the previous race at the games, Anaso Jobodwana won the A race in a time of 20.12s.
American Dedric Dukes finished behind Jobodwana in second place, clocking 20.27s while Danny Talbot of Britain took third in 20.30s.
Van Niekerk’s latest feat comes two weeks after he made history as the first African to run a sub-44 second time in the 400m.
Tuesday’s performance secured him a place among a select few to have run both distances below the dream barriers.
The only other three athletes to have achieved this are Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Americans Michael Johnson and LaShawn Merritt.
Van Niekerk now boasts the third fastest times in both the 200m and 400m this season.
Although his times would make for a mouth-watering 200m to 400m double at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month, Van Niekerk recently dismissed the possibility of including the half-lap sprint to his repertoire there.
The schedule at the World Championships would also make it difficult for the star athlete to complete the double.
The 400m final is less than an hour after the 200m semi-final, which would be a tall order should Van Niekerk make it that far in both events.
But he can, with certainty, be labelled South Africa’s king of speed with the 200m, 300m and 400m national records belonging to him.
The Bloemfontein athlete is celebrating his 22nd birthday on Wednesday with the knowledge that he has only scratched the surface of his potential.