Having displayed fine form over shorter distances this season, 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk will target another global best on Wednesday night, as he shifts gears in the build-up to the World Championships.
The versatile speedster, aiming for a rare 200m/400m double in London in August, set a 100m personal best of 9.94 and a 200m national record of 19.84 earlier this month.
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Lying third in the all-time global rankings over the rarely run 300m distance, after clocking 31.03 in Kingston last season, he was chasing two marks held by international legends at the midweek World Challenge meeting.
The speedster from Bloemfontein was tipped to challenge American Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world best of 30.85, as well as Jamaican Usain Bolt’s meeting record of 30.97 set in 2010.
While Bolt was also in the entry lists, he was set to feature in the men’s 100m dash.
“I’ve already run some really good sprints this year and I’m happy I’m moving forward in my speed,” Van Niekerk said on Tuesday.
“The 300m will be the next step on the journey for my usual fast 400m, and I always want to do my best and run faster.”
Van Niekerk was set to line up as the firm favourite for victory, though the field also included world indoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic and SA junior 200m record holder Clarence Munyai.
“It is not an official distance so I’m going to go out there and be ridiculous, I’ve got nothing to lose,” Van Niekerk said.
“I just want to go there and do my best.
“I want to run to maximum through the whole race, no excuses.”
In other disciplines in Ostrava, national 110m hurdles record holder Antonio Alkana was among the favourites in the men’s 110m hurdles race.
Fellow South African athletes Jacob Rozani (men’s 1 000m), Alyssa Conley (women’s 200m) and Rikenette Steenkamp (women’s 100m hurdles) were also included in the start lists.