Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Wayde van Niekerk relieved to show he can still put up a fight

His latest result gave the 400m world record holder another significant confidence boost.


Made to work hard for his latest Diamond League victory, Wayde van Niekerk said he was pleased to have held on after being pushed to the line in London over the weekend.

The 400m world record holder secured his third top-flight win of the season over his specialist distance, booking his place in the Diamond League series final to be held in Eugene later this year.

And though he remained undefeated in the 2023 campaign, the two-time world champion had to fight off challenges from American opponents in the closing stages of the race.

Van Niekerk crossed the line in 44.36 seconds, with Bryce Deadmon taking the runner-up spot in 44.40 and Vernon Norwood finishing third in 44.46.

https://twitter.com/Track_Gazette/status/1683121950061899776

Still on the comeback trail after recovering from a serious knee injury he picked up in 2017, Van Niekerk said his latest result gave him another significant confidence boost ahead of next month’s World Championships in Budapest.

“There’s a bit more of a fight needed from me so I’m glad that I could put down a fight today and show myself that I can fight through difficult days too and get a victory,” he told the Diamond League website after the race.

“Physically I’m ticking all the right boxes, so hopefully I can just use this for myself as a reference moving forward to just constantly improve and grow.”

Podium chase

Van Niekerk was ranked fourth in the world this year with a season’s best of 44.08 set in Poland earlier this month.

And while he had some work to do if he hoped to close down world leader Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas, who recently clocked 43.78 at a meeting in Hungary, the South African star believed he was on the right track to put up a fight for a podium place in Budapest.

Following his victory in the English capital, he was set to return to training in order to focus on his preparation for the global showpiece where he hoped to reclaim the global title he last won six years ago.

“In Budapest I’ll be fighting for a medal,” he said, “and I know I have the abilities to grow and improve by then.”

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