Team SA’s medal hunt continues at World Champs in Hungary

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Team South Africa had a mixed bag of results on day two of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. World record holder, Wayde Van Niekerk, and sprint sensation, Zakithi Nene, advanced to Tuesday’s semi-finals of the men’s 400m race.

Zeney Van Der Walt also booked her place in Monday’s semi-finals of the women’s 400m race. However, it was end of the road for Miranda Coetzee, Marli Viljoen after they fell short in their respective heats and Antonio Alkana in the men’s 110 hurdles race.

After breaking a World record in 2016 to win an Olympic title at the Rio Games, Van Niekerk suffered an injury in 2017 which saw him struggle to regain his form. But the South African has been doing well since he started his comeback last year and is expected to win a medal at this year’s Games.

Running in lane four, the 31-year had a good start and was second behind Briton, Matthew Hudson-Smith going to the final bend of the race. The South African injected some pace going to the home straight and overtook Hudson Smith. Van Niekerk finished first in 44.57 seconds to win automatic qualification to Tuesday’s semi-final. Hudson Smith came second in a season’s best of 44.69 second while Dutchman, Liemarvin Bonevacia, came in third place.

Zakithi Nene also qualified for Tuesday’s semi-final of the event. The 25-year-old Nene had started well and was second with automatic qualification looking likely. But he was pipped to the finish line by two of his competitors to finish in fourth place. But he made it through to the semis with his 44.88 seconds placing him 13th overall out of 23 athletes who qualified for the semis.

Another South African, Zeney Van Der Walt, finished second in her heat of the women’s 400m race to seal automatic qualification to Monday’s semi-final. But it was early elimination for Alkana Antonio after he finished last in his heat of the men’s 110m hurdles race.

Akani Simbine’s streak of finishing fourth or fifth in the last five global championships is over after he was disqualified for a false start in the 100m semi-finals.