Photo by Lucy Nicholson Reuters

Day 7 had  5 South Africans competing and again all eyes were focused on Wayde van Niekerk as he attempted the ever challenging 200m and 400m double which has only been done by legend Michael Johnson. But before watching the historic attempt at the phenomenal feat by Van Niekerk we were spoiled by the opportunity to watch 4 more SA athletes on the track and field.

Caster Semenya and Gena Lofstrand lined-up in the heats of the 800m and the only aim was to progress to the semi-finals the following day and both these ladies did so. Semenya’s advancement to the semi-finals was much smoother for the Olympic Champion and her confidence was evident after winning bronze in the 1500m. Semenya advanced to the final after winning her heat in 2:01.33. Lofstrand on the other hand did not have it as easy as Semenya and she ran a totally different race being aggressive from the gun and pushing a blisterin pace for the first 400m. Lofstrand ran a brave race and was rewarded for her heroics when she advanced to the semi-finals with her time of 2:01.73 despite finishing 7th. Lofstrand running in the final heat made the very wise decision of running for time rather than position in the final heat which was brilliant observation allowing her to make the semi-finals. Here heat was won by Olympics silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba in 1:59.86 in the fastest qualifying time.

In the Javelin for men, Rocco van Rooyen competed in group B of the Qualification rounds. Van Rooyen did not have the easiest of qualification rounds and the task of making the final became out of reach after failing to throw over 80m which would be standard to qualify on the evening. Van Rooyen’s best throw of 74.02m saw him finish 30th overall in the Championship.

Justine Palframan was next to step on the track in the 200m semi-finals. She lined-up in a super talented field with defending champion Dafne Schippers as favourite in her heat. Palframan would be required to run a personal best or very close to it to stand a chance of advancing to the final. Palframan looked very good around the bend in the first 100m, but lost contact with the leaders in the home straight and could only manage to finish at 7th place in a time of 23.21. Defending champion Schippers went on to win the semi-final in 22.49. Palframan would leave the championships in an overall 15th position and this is a feat that will be motivating to her.

The main event for the evening would be the 200m final as Van Niekerk attempted to make history by winning gold in the 400m followed by gold in the 200m for the legendary double. This is one of the toughest and most demanding doubles which has only been done by Michael Johnson in 1995. Van Niekerk gave a lionhearted attempt at this double and despite being dipped at the line by Ramil Guliyev who won the race in 20.09, Van Niekerks 20.11 was sufficient for 2nd and Van Niekerk’s shout of triumph highlighted what he was able to overcome over 6 days of hard racing to win this medal. Gold and Silver in 6 days!! Salute to the greatest athlete to grace South African shores for winning 2 individual medals, a feat that no South African has ever done. The future is bright, the double gold is within reach and Van Niekerk can leave these Championships proud as he continues to bring smiles to South Africans!!


Written by Black Legend