Van Niekerk to win 400m gold running 'blind'?

Cape Town - If Wayde van Niekerk is to win Team SA's first gold medal at the Rio Olympics, he'll have to do it hard way in the 400m final.

Van Niekerk, the only man to run the 100m in under 10 seconds, the 200m in under 20 seconds and the 400m under 44 seconds, will only contest the 400m in Rio.

Van Niekerk cruised into Sunday's final - and that's where the potential problem lies.

Van Niekerk finished second in his semi-final in 44:45 which wound up being only the fifth-fastest overall time.

As a result, Van Niekerk will run from Lane 8 in the final and will be running "blind" as they say in the athletics world.

Grenada's Kirani James posted the quickest time in the semi-finals (44:02) and will have Van Niekerk in his sights from Lane 6.

As will American LaShawn Merritt (44:21) out of Lane 5.

Should Van Niekerk prevail and cross the finish line first, it will be South Africa's 23rd gold medal in their 19 Olympiads to date.

Bookmakers see the race as a three-man battle, with James a marginal favourite ahead of Van Niekerk, with Merritt backed for bronze.

The final will take place on Sunday night (Monday at 03:00 SA time).

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