South Africa’s Olympic 400m champion, Wayde van Niekerk broke the long-standing meeting record, and the Diamond League record, at the 2017 Athletissima – eighth leg of the IAAF Diamond League series – in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday 6 June.
Van Niekerk cruised to victory in the men’s 400m in 43.62 seconds, chopping 0.04 off the previous meeting mark set by American great Michael Johnson in 1996. The win brings him to 9th place in the rankings, a touching distance to a place in the Final.
Botswana rising star Baboloki Thebe, 20, clocked a lifetime best time of 44.02 seconds to place second ahead of compatriot Isaac Makwala, who finished in third position with a season’s best time of 44.08 seconds.
“The public was great. That really helps in an event like the 400m,” Van Niekerk said after the race.
“It is my first race in Europe this year and my first 400m. I didn’t come with a specific time in mind but I am pleased with this result.
“I do have a love-hate relationship with the 400m. However, I try to always approach it with a positive mind set, not setting myself any limits: and the performances keep coming along which keeps me passionate about what I do.”
“I need that passion to constantly seek improvements. Finishing a 400m is always painful but, this time around, I am actually pleasantly surprised about how I digested the lactic acid,” Van Niekerk added.
Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris produced another world-leading mark of the night to win the men’s 5000m in 12:55.53 ahead of compatriot, and 2016 world U20 champion, Selemon Barega, who was second in 12:55.58. Uganda’s Joshua Chetegei finished in third place in 12:59.83.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba won the women’s 800m in 1:56.82 ahead of USA’s Charlene Lipsey, who ran a personal best time of 1:57.38 for second.
In the non-scoring men’s 100m race, South African record-holder Akani Simbine again dipped under 10 seconds, grabbing third spot in 9.99, just 0.03 behind the winner, Justin Gatlin of the USA (9.96) and African champion Ben Youssef Meite of the Ivory Coast, who was a close second in 9.98.
Former South African champion Henricho Bruintjies took the sixth position in 10.15.
The reigning African 200m Champion Marie-Josee Ta Lou sets a new Ivorian record of 22.16 seconds with her second place finish after Dutch woman Dafne Schippers in the women’s 200m race.
South African Cornel Fredericks settled for fifth place in the men’s 400m Hurdles in 49.32 while compatriot LJ van Zyl was seventh in 50.04.