Wayde van Niekerk powers back into gold medal conversation with Diamond League victory

With victory in the Diamond League event in London, South Africa’s world record-holder and 2016 Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk further enhanced his podium potential at the World Championships next month.

South Africa’s world record-holder and 2016 Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk continued his climb back towards podium potential by winning the 400m event at the Diamond League in London on Sunday.

Van Niekerk powered to his second victory in as many weeks in a time of 44.36 seconds, just edging American Bryce Deadmon (44.40), on the track where he won the second of his world titles in 2017.

“Physically, I’m ticking all the right boxes, so hopefully I can just constantly improve and grow. Then, when I get to Budapest I can compete for medals,” Van Niekerk said after the race.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou, meanwhile, showed that she will be a force to be reckoned with at next month’s world championships as she claimed another 100m win in a scorching 10.75 seconds.

In the final Diamond League meeting before the August championships in Budapest, Ta Lou, Noah Lyles (200m), Femke Bol (400m hurdles) and Jackline Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase) all produced stellar performances.

They were roared on by the biggest Diamond League crowd anywhere for five years as around 50 000 fans created a fabulous atmosphere as the event returned to London’s Olympic Stadium for the first time since 2019.

For about nine seconds they thought they were going to see local favourite Dina Asher-Smith triumph in the women’s 100m, but she was overhauled to finish second in 10.85. Flying past her was Ivory Coast’s Ta Lou to claim her third Diamond League win of the season, with slowstarting Jamaican Shericka Jackson third in 10.94.

“I hope to go back and train even harder for Budapest because I know it will take more to win there,” Ta Lou said. “I know my finish is strong, but my start could be better and I need to improve it to make sure I can achieve my goal of winning gold.”

World champion Lyles also surged through late to win a stacked 200m as the American’s 19.47 improved his own fastest time in the world this year by two tenths.

Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo was second in an African record 19.50, while Zharnel Hughes completed a notable double by also erasing John Regis’s long-standing 200m mark with 19.73 in third.

Dutchwoman Bol also showed that she is in hot form when she blasted to a European record of 51.45 in the 400m hurdles.

“Amazing. I’ve been wanting to run a 51 ever since Tokyo, I had a feeling I could do it but I still can’t believe I’ve done it,” Bol said.

Her compatriot Sifan Hassan, who won the London Marathon in April, looked short of race sharpness as Ethiopian world champion Gudaf Tsegay swept past her old rival on the home straight to win the 5000m in a personal best 14:12.29.

In the 3000m steeplechase Kenyan Jackline Chepkoech also produced a brilliant personal best of 8:57.35, making her the only athlete to go under nine minutes this year.

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