Olympic athletics champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk has clocked the 400m Olympic qualifying standard at the Madrid Meeting World Athletics Continental Tour Silver on June 19, 2021, finishing second in 44.56 seconds.
The 28-year-old champion and world record holder in the 400m, Van Niekerk has been battling injury for the past few seasons. He can now prepare for his title defence in Japan.
The South African finished second as Colombia’s Anthony Jose Zambrano won in 44.51 to also ensure an Olympic spot. Van Niekerk was 0.34 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying time. Until this race, Van Niekerk had not made the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Games in either the 200m (20.24s) or 400m.
Unfortunately for South Africa’s other Olympic champion, Caster Semenya, world record holder in the women’s 800m, there was no such joy on the same night at a meet in Germany. The two-time 800m gold medalist was chasing qualification in the 5,000m in Regensburg, Germany, and needed a time of 15 minutes and 10 seconds (15:10.00) to make it to Tokyo. But the 30-year-old was unable to reach that mark, finishing fourth in a time of 15:57.12. Semenya will give the 5,000m another shot in Belgium on June 30, 2021.