Van Niekerk has a date with Bolt

Johannesburg – Sparks are set to fly for newly crowned 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk when he participates in the final two Diamond League meetings in Zurich and Brussels.

Van Niekerk will first have to contend with American LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James of the Grenada in the 400m in Switzerland on Thursday.

The rematch comes only a week after Van Niekerk beat both men to the line with the sixth fastest of all time in the one-lap sprint, posting a time of 43.48 seconds to claim the title.

Van Niekerk collapsed after he crossed the line leading all three under 44 seconds, the first time three men have done so in one race.

While the rematch is a mouth-watering prospect, it is the men’s 200m at the Brussels Diamond League next week Friday that would ensure the season ends on a climax.

Van Niekerk is set to line up against four-time world champion Usain Bolt and South African record-holder and world bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana.

The 23-year-old could claim the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League 400m title if he keeps his unbeaten run untainted.

He trails James by two points on the 400m leaderboard and will be looking to add this title to his World Championships gold medal.

Jobodwana ran the race of his life in the 200m final in Beijing where he finished third behind Bolt and American Justin Gatlin, posting a new national record time of 19.87 seconds.

He became only the second South African behind Van Niekerk to dip below 20 seconds in the half-lap and sliced 0.07 seconds off the previous record held by his compatriot.

Jobodwana could wrap up the Diamond League 200m title at Thursday’s meeting in Zurich as he leads with nine points from five Diamond races.

Last year, Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena became the first South African athlete to finish top of the Diamond League standings, claiming overall victory in the men’s long jump discipline.

The duo will be joined at Thursday’s Diamond League by fellow World Championships medallist Sunette Viljoen, who won bronze in the women’s javelin on Sunday.

She will go up against World Champion Katharina Molitor of Germany and China’s Luy Huihui, who denied her the gold in Beijing.

Women’s 400m hurdler Wenda Nel, who finished seventh in the final at the World Championships, will also be competing in Zurich.

Mokoena will round off the South African contingent challenging for a podium spot in the long jump after he failed to advance to the final Beijing, while he made it into the final of the triple jump with a ninth-place finish.

Source: sport24

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