Athletics

Wayde van Niekerk cruises to 200m SA title, wants to get 'old mentality' back

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Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk (AFP)
Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk (AFP)
Phill Magakoe / AFP

Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk cruised to victory in the men's 200m on the final day of the SA Track and Field Championships in Tshwane on Saturday.

Van Niekerk, who was running in lane five, set the track alight to finish in 20.38 seconds, easing up as he crossed the line at the University of Pretoria.

The 28-year-old was however 0.14 seconds outside the minimum time needed to compete at the Olympics in Japan.

Van Niekerk has yet to indicate whether he will attempt to qualify for the 200 and 400m events at the Tokyo Olympics, or concentrate on the longer distance.

Seventeen-year-old Benjamin Richardson claimed silver in 20.77 seconds, with Nicholas Ferns finishing third in 20.83.

Van Niekerk will now fly to Florida to prepare for July's Olympics with top American coach Lance Brauman's base in Claremont.

Speaking to Athletics South Africa, the 400m world record holder said he was still waiting for his passport and visa to travel to the US.

"Today, I wasn't really trying to push for anything or any time or anything. Just to execute the race and get the win," Van Niekerk said, as quoted by the Olympics Channel.

"My biggest challenge at this moment is just to get that old mentality again, remembering that I'm a competitor and being able to make sure that when I get to the track, I can start executing my races the way I should."

Meanwhile, SA's other Olympic contender Ruswahl Samaai leapt to victory in the long jump event when he landed with an 8.16 metre jump.

Jovan van Vuuren (8.02m) and Divan Manual (7.88m) finished second and third respectively.

In the women's 200m final, Olympian Justine Palframan claimed gold as she stopped the clock in a time of 23.64. Shirley Nekhubui finished second in 23.77 with Miranda Coetzee taking third-place (23.83).

Ninenteen-year-old Prudence Sekgodiso took home the 800m title in 2:08.35, with Simonay Weitsz finishing closely behind in 2:08.61. Aviwe Hoboloshe finished third with a time of 2:09.16.

Wenda Nel, who won bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 400m hurdles, won the race in a time of 55.60 seconds. 

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