Two-time world champion, Wayde van Niekerk kept his medal hopes alive on Tuesday night, progressing safely through to the men’s 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Van Niekerk finished third in his semifinal in 44.65 seconds of the World Athletics Championships. It was sufficient to qualify on time for the medal battle to be contested on Thursday. 

The world record holder was the sixth fastest in the penultimate round, with Jamaican athlete Antonio Watson setting the quickest time (44.13). 

ALSO READ: Simbine and Tshite reach semi-finals at World Championships 

Former South African champion Zakithi Nene ended sixth in his one-lap semifinal in 45.6. But he was unable to secure a lane in the final.

Taking another step forward in what has already been a superb season, Marione Fourie finished third in her first-round heat in the women’s 100m hurdles. 

She crossed the line in 12.71, keeping her World Championships campaign alive by reaching the semifinals. Her compatriot, Taylon Bieldt, took seventh place in her 100m hurdles heat in 13.05 and did not progress. Another hurdler, Zeney van der Walt, finished eighth in 55.49 in her 400m hurdles semifinal. 

Though she struggled to put up a fight in her last race of the showpiece, Van der Walt closed out a tough three-day schedule after reaching the second round in both the 400m hurdles and flat 400m sprint.

Wayde van Niekerk through to the World Athletics Championships
Wayde van Niekerk

WAYDE VAN NIEKERK THROUGH TO THE ATHLETICS FINAL

Schedule of SA athletes, Day 5 (Wednesday, 23 August):

Morning session: 

800m women, heats (Prudence Sekgodiso) 

Pole vault qualification, men (Kyle Rademeyer) – 10.15am 

Javelin throw qualification, women (Jo-Ane van Dyk) – 10.20am/11.55am 

Long jump qualification, men (Cheswill Johnson) – 11.15am 

(Shaun Maswanganyi, Luxolo Adams, Sinesipho Dambile) – 12.50am – 200m heats, men 

Evening session: 

8.40pm – 100m hurdles semifinals, women (Marione Fourie).

Source: Athletics South Africa

Sprinter Akani Simbine and middle-distance runner Tshepo Tshite delivered good performances for the SA team at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Saturday. They progressed to the second round of their respective events on Day One.

Simbine won his 100m heat in 9.97 seconds, clocking the third-fastest time in the opening round. He booked his place in the semifinals to be held on Sunday.

“I’m really happy to get that first run out the way, and to get a win,” Simbine told Athletics SA.

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“I’m just trusting my running pattern, and how I race, and the shape that I’m in, and it’s paying off. I feel good for tomorrow, for the semifinals and the final.”

Fellow sprinters Benjamin Richardson (10.17) and Shaun Maswanganyi (10.21) both finished fourth in their 100m heats. They narrowly missed out on places in the penultimate round.

AKANI SIMBINE AND TSHEPO TSHITE SHINE AT WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Meanwhile, Tshite took second spot in his 1 500m heat in 3:47.79. He will turn out again in the semi-finals on Sunday night.

“The race went well. It was tactical but the most important thing for me was to be in the top six (in order to reach the next round) regardless of the time. So I’m really happy,” Tshite said.

Akani Simbine and Tshepo Tshite shine at the World Athletics Championships
Tshepo Tshite

His compatriot, Ryan Mphahlele, was 10th in his 1 500m heat in 3:39.16 and was eliminated ahead of the semi-finals.

In other events on the opening day of competition, Carina Viljoen ended 12th in her 1 500m heat (4:11.02). She was unable to progress beyond the first round.

Burger Lambrechts and Kyle Blignaut were knocked out in the qualifying round of the men’s shot put. Lambrechts was 24th overall with a 19.52m throw and Blignaut settled for 34th position (18.82m).

Former World Championships finalist Victor Hogan was 27th overall in the qualifying round of the men’s discus throw (61.80m) and he too missed out on the final.

Schedule of South African athletes, Day 2 Sunday, 20 August:

Morning session:

9.35am – 400m heats, women (Marli Viljoen, Miranda Coetzee, Zeney van der Walt)

10.25am – 400m heats, men (Wayde van Niekerk, Zakithi Nene, Lythe Pillay)

10.30am – discus throw qualification, women (Yolandi Stander)

1.05pm – 110m hurdles heats, men (Antonio Alkana)

Evening session:

4.35pm – 100m semifinals, men (Akani Simbine)

5.30pm – 1 500m semifinals, men (Tshepo Tshite)

6.25pm – 10 000m final, men (Adriaan Wildschutt)

7.10pm – 100m final, men (Akani Simbine)

Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine will lead the SA team at the World Athletics Championships starting in Budapest, Hungary next week. Athletics South Africa named a strong national team on Tuesday.

The team includes a total of 36 athletes made of 24 men and 12 women who will represent South Africa at the 19th edition of the international track and field showpiece.

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Van Niekerk, who won 400m gold at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships, has been in good form this year after recovering from a serious near- career-ending injury and the world record holder will be targeting a medal.

Simbine, the SA 100m record holder, will be equally eager to step on the podium after narrowly missing out on a medal at the last three editions of the World Championships. He will also spearhead the national 4x100m relay team.

WAYDE VAN NIEKERK AND AKANI SIMBINE LEAD SA TEAM

They will be joined by the likes of African 110m hurdles record holder Antonio Alkana, former World Championships finalist Victor Hogan (discus throw), Olympic finalist Kyle Blignaut (shot put), in-form sprinter Shaun Maswanganyi (100m/200m), and former Diamond League meeting winners Zakithi Nene (400m) and Luxolo Adams (200m).

In addition, Simbine and Maswanganyi will spearhead a strong SA 4x100m relay team.

Among a relatively young women’s contingent, most athletes will be looking to gain valuable experience at the highest level as they look to punch above their weight against the world’s best.

ASA announces 36-member team for World Athletics Championship led by  Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine
Akani Simbine

WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIP IN FOR MORE SURPRISES?

Some athletes will also be aiming to spring a surprise by giving their opposition a shake, led by the likes of Commonwealth Games medallist Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles), SA record holder Marione Fourie (100m hurdles) and middle-distance prospect Prudence Sekgodiso (800m).

“Our team is out and it’s time to go and showcase what they have fought so much for,” said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa. “These are the warriors we are sending to battle and to hold the flag high.

“We believe in them and we encourage them to do the same. As they go along with the battle they must also enjoy themselves in the process, but this is no holiday.”

The nine-day World Athletics Championships will be held in Budapest between 19-27 August 2023.

The Team will depart from OR Tambo International Airport on Monday 14 August. They will return on Tuesday 29 August 2023.