Interest high in Olympic champ’s 100m race in Bloemfontein event
Wearing #1 as his competition number‚ Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk will spring into action in the second leg of the Athletics SA (ASA) Speed Series in his hometown of Bloemfontein tonight.
He is scheduled to receive an award from the IAAF world governing body at the start of the meet, recognising his world-record run in the Olympic 400m final.
But the big question is whether Van Niekerk will push himself in the 100m harder than he did in a couple of preseason efforts recently‚ or whether he will try for history as he did there 361 days ago.
On March 12 last year Van Niekerk clocked 9.98sec to become the only sprinter in history to have dipped under 10 seconds in the 100m‚ 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m.
His friend and travelling roommate Akani Simbine had just started his 2016 season with a 100m dash of 9.96 four days before; this past Saturday Simbine opened his 2017 account with a 9.93 effort in the 100m and a 19.95 push in the 200m.
Van Niekerk has said he intends to add the 200m to his international race schedule this year‚ which could impact on how he plans his season to ensure he still peaks at the world championships in London.
Wearing the No 2 on the night is Olympic long-jump silver medallist Luvo Manyonga‚ who started last year with two early world lead jumps‚ his season-opening 8.20m quickly followed by a personal best 8.30m.
He improved his best twice more that season‚ going 8.37m at the Olympics and then 8.48m – the world’s second best jump of the year – in the final Diamond League meet in Brussels.
The world lead at the moment is still a tame 8.19m.
Also on display on the night will be the relay teams that ASA is finally organising.