Despite admitting he had to push hard at the weekend, Wayde van Niekerk was pleased to continue his steady progress, nine weeks out from the World Championships.
The versatile sprinter, gearing up to target a 200m and 400m double at the global spectacle in London, stormed to victory in a 200m street race in Boston on Sunday.
While he stopped the clock at 19.84 seconds – the fastest time ever run by a South African athlete – the performance could not be recognised for record purposes as it was held on a temporary track without a bend.
He was well clear of American sprinter BeeJay Lee who took second place in 20.17.
“It was challenging,” Van Niekerk told Reuters.
“To be honest I thought I did a 400m. It was a bit tough.”
With plenty of hype around his campaign in the English capital after international organisers adjusted the schedule to give him enough rest between races, Van Niekerk was aiming to emulate American great Michael Johnson by taking the long-sprint double.
Though he had not yet turned out in a competitive 400m race this year, Van Niekerk displayed spectacular early form by clocking a 200m personal best of 19.90 to win the national title in Potchefstroom in March, and gained further momentum with his latest performance.
“I still have a lot of work to do and I have a lot of areas I need to look into, but it was a positive win for me,” he said.
National 100m record holder Akani Simbine took second place over his specialist distance in 10.21, narrowly edged out by Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago who was credited with the same time.
On the opening day of the two-day meeting, distance runner Dominique Scott clocked 4:12.48 to finish second in the women’s 1 500m race.