Almost a week after South African runner Akani Simbine broke the South African 100m record in Pretoria on 8 March 2016, fellow South African Wayde van Niekerk, the current world 400m champion, became the first runner to break records for 100m, 200m and 400m events.
The last of these three achievements was at an athletics event in Bloemfontein on 12 March. He broke the 10-second barrier for the 100m race, posting 9.98 seconds to win.
Previous records broken were his 19.94-second run in the 200m at an event in Luzern, Switzerland in July 2015, and his 400m champion win in Beijing in August 2015 with a time of 43.48 seconds. Bloemfontein, with its legal 1.5m/sec tailwinds and 1 300m altitude as advantages, enabled Van Niekerk to complete his trifecta. Before Saturday, he had not run the 100m since his junior athletics days.
His record this weekend puts Van Niekerk in a very exclusive 100-metres-in- under-10-seconds club that features not only current 100m world champion Usain Bolt, but also previous race winners Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake.
While these times look encouraging for his success at the forthcoming Rio Olympic Games, starting in August 2016, Van Niekerk has chosen to contest only the 400m race at the Games, as he considers it his strongest event and his chances of winning a medal for it look promising.He was the silver medallist in the 400m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and took bronze in the 4×400m relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade. He also represented South Africa at the 2013 and 2015 Athletics World Championships‚ winning a gold medal in the 400m in the latter event.He took to Instagram to thank his fans for their support and post a video of the Bloemfontein race.
Fans, particularly Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, congratulated Van Niekerk on Twitter for his win, and wished him luck for Rio.