Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa wins the men's 400 metre final.
Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa wins the men's 400 metre final. Ezra Shaw

RIO 2016: South African smashes world mark

ATHLETICS: South African Wayde van Niekerk has smashed the world record on his way to taking gold in the 400m in Rio.

The South African, the first man to run under 10 seconds for 100m, under 20 for 200m and under 44 for 400m, ran an amazing 43.03 seconds to beat the previous record set by American great Michael Johnson in Seville in 1999.

Johnson's mark was 43.18 and also saw his Olympic record of 43.50 also go.

Defending champion Kirani James from Grenada was second in 43.76 and American LaShawn Merritt was third in 43.85 in a race where four of the top six finishers set personal bests.

Wayde van Niekerk told the BBC he thought he could win gold and break the record.

"I have dreamed of this since forever, since I was a kid. I asked the Lord to carry me through, I even wrote it on my spikes. I am blessed," he said.

"I believed it was possible. I am just glad things went my way tonight. I thank Michael Johnson for setting such a great example for us. I just did my best tonight.

"I am grateful and blessed to be surrounded by such great sports people of my generation."


The other gold medal decided on the second day of athletics went to Caterine Ibarguen from Colombia in the women's triple jump with 15.17m.

Meanwhile, Australian duo Morgan Mitchell and Anneliese Rubie did not make it past the semi-finals in the women's 400m.

Mitchell finished last in 52.68 seconds while Rubie was sixth in her semi in 51.96.

The fastest qualifier for Tuesday's final was Allyson Felix from the United States in 49.67.

There was more disappointment in the women's 1500m with Linden Hall, Zoe Buckman and Jenny Blundell also missing the final.

Hall just fell short on countback after storming home to finish her semi in eighth in 4:05.81.

Buckman (4:06.95) was behind her teammate while Blundell (4:13.25) came second-last in the second.

Australian high-jumper Brandon Starc is through to Wednesday morning's final.

The 22-year-old brother of Test cricketer Mitchell, cleared 2.29m on his third and final attempt to go through in 11th place.


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