World record holder Van Niekerk reaches Olympics 400m qualifying time

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Tokyo bound: Wayde van Niekerk achieved the 400m qualifying standard on Saturday
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Olympic champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk on Saturday achieved the 400m qualifying standard for the Tokyo Olympics at a meeting in Madrid.

The 28-year-old finished in a time of 44.56sec, inside the required standard of 44.90sec.

The South African was second in the race behind Colombia's Anthony Jose Zambrano who clocked 44.51sec.

Up until Saturday, Van Niekerk had yet to meet the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics in either the 200m or 400m.

"Qualifying is no worry for myself. I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can do," he said earlier this month.

"I'm sure the next time you see me on the track, it will definitely be a (qualifying time)."

A year after winning 400m gold and breaking the 17-year record of Michael Johnson with a time a 43.03sec at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Van Niekerk injured his knee playing celebrity touch rugby.

Amid a slow recovery that included medical treatment in the United States and Qatar, he tested positive for Covid-19.

The goals of the athlete born in the western Cape town of Kraaifontein include more Olympic gold medals and breaking the 43-sec barrier in the 400m.

dj/bsp

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