WATCH: Wayde van Niekerk ‘getting there’ after ‘good’ Oslo Diamond League win

South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk wins the men's 400m at the Diamond League event in Oslo ahead of Vernon Norwood of the United States in third.

Cape Town – Wayde van Niekerk said that he was “happy to be back beating these guys” as he showed his undoubted class once more by holding off the fastest 400m runner this year to clinch victory at the Diamond League event in Oslo on Thursday night.

The 30-year-old 400m world record-holder produced a controlled performance to beat Zambian youngster Muzala Samukonga into second place with a winning time of 44.38 to claim his first Diamond League triumph since 2017.

The 20-year-old Samukonga stopped the clock at 44.49 – well short of his 2023 world-best time of 43.91 – and American Vernon Norwood finished third with 44.51.

Running in lane five, Van Niekerk made a confident start, using Samukonga in lane six as a guide to pace himself steadily through the first 200 metres.

Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith in lane seven went out the fastest, taking the lead at the halfway stage, but when Van Niekerk realised this and saw Samukonga behind him, he decided to put his foot down and charge to the front when going through the final bend into the home straight.

It looked like the South African was going to burst away from the rest of the field over the final 60 metres, but that was when Norwood closed the gap somewhat, followed by Samukonga.

Van Niekerk, though, had enough left in the tank to cross the line in 44.38 – his third-fastest time in 2023, behind his 44.17 and 44.21 efforts in April (Potchefstroom) and early June (Kingston, Jamaica) respectively.

Having not competed much this year as he gears up for the world championships in Budapest in August, Van Niekerk can be delighted with his performance, despite missing out on a sub-44-second time and Michael Johnson’s meeting record of 43.86.

“I don’t think people realise just how hard this event is both physically and mentally – you can see how long it takes me to recover, so that shows I’m still not where I’m meant to be, but I’m getting there,” Van Niekerk told the Diamond League website.

“It was a good race and it is great to be back on the circuit, but it is very hard for me right now. I’m just taking it race by race.

“I try not to think too far ahead, but of course, Budapest is a big goal. I’m happy to be back beating these guys… the event is in a good place right now.

“It was special to have my family over here with me – I want my children to experience this life with me when they can, and it is lovely here.”

In a short message on his Instagram page, Van Niekerk added: “Thank you Oslo Norway – box checked. I really enjoyed the race and experience. 44.38 some consistent results moving forward.”

There was another South African in the field in the shape of Zakithi Nene, who finished seventh from lane two in 45.34 seconds.

The third local athlete at the meeting, sprinter Luxolo Adams, finished last in the 200m with a time of 20.79 in a race won by American sensation Erriyon Knighton in a superb 19.77 effort, which broke Usain Bolt’s meeting record of 19.79.

The next Diamond League event will take place in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 30.

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