Van Niekerk scrapes into 400m final and Gianmarco Tamberi wins high jump gold

Wayde van Niekerk had South Africans holding their breath as he missed out on automatic qualification for the 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Tuesday.

All our World Championship coverage is proudly fuelled by PUMA South Africa.

The Rio Olympic champion and world record holder finished third in the first of three semifinals, leading to an anxious wait to see if his time of 44.65 was quick enough to see him through to Thursday’s final. In the end, it proved enough, but the 2017 world champion was not happy with his performance.

“Tonight was very disappointing. Obviously not close to what we all know I can do,” he admitted afterwards. “But I live to see another day. I’ve got a day of recovery. The final is a great opportunity for each and every one of us. It’s all about the one who wants it the most, so these next few days I have to get my head right and prove to myself that this is what I want and then we put our best foot forward in the final.”

Gianmarco Tamberi put on a thrilling performance in the Men’s High Jump final, claiming his first World Title. The reigning Olympic champion jumped a height of 2,36 metres to claim the gold medal, with the USA’s JuVaughn Harrison finishing second on countback despite clearing the same height. Mutaz Barshim took the bronze after failing to clear 2,36m, a disappointment as this is the first time he hasn’t been crowned champion at a major championship since finishing second at Rio in 2016.

Zakithi Nene was also disappointed with his performance on the night, finishing sixth in the last of the 400m semifinals, in which two athletes including world leader Steven Gardiner pulled up injured, in 45.64 to miss out on a semifinal spot. “I almost pulled out myself with the tightness of my hammy, but I’m just glad I finished the race healthy and credit to everyone that qualified and went through,” he said afterwards.

Earlier in the evening there was happier news for sprint hurdler Marioné Fourie. The SA record holder finished third in her heat in 12.71 to automatically qualify for Wednesday’s semifinals.

“I was a little bit jittery at the start, I was a little bit nervous,” Fourie explained afterwards. “But I think the execution was OK… I think it was nerves, but the semifinals will definitely be better. I want another SA record.”

Taylon Bieldt missed out on the 100m hurdles semifinals after finishing seventh in her heat in 13.05.

Zeney van der Walt’s gruelling programme at these championships came to an end on Tuesday. Having doubled up with the 400m, the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was back after those semifinals on Monday for the 400m hurdles semifinals on Tuesday night.

She admitted afterwards to being somewhat disappointed with her time of 55.49 for eighth place. “It was tough. I am a bit disappointed with the time. I would have loved it if it was a sub-55 season’s best, PB, but it wasn’t. But I’m still grateful to have been part of the semifinals.”

Karsten Warholm Sets Eyes on Gold

Despite hitting the second hurdle, world record holder Karsten Warholm cruised to victory in his 400m hurdles semifinal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Monday. He joked afterwards that it was more of a problem for the hurdle than it had been for him – his time on the night a speedy 47.09 seconds. 19-year-old Jamaican Roshawn Clarke was second in a new world junior record of 47.34. Speaking after his semifinal, the Norwegian superstar reckoned: “Surely there is going to be someone who challenges me but today it was very good and I felt strong. The truth is that I ran a bit faster than I wanted to but what can I do when the others are running like hell too? The track can never be too fast.” Warholm will be looking to regain the world title he last won in 2019 in tonight’s final scheduled for 9.50pm.

Our team on the ground at Budapest have been interviewing all South African athletes after their respective events. To get an inside view into strategy and their thoughts on their performances, click the button below to see for yourself what it takes to compete on a world stage!


Watch Day Four Highlights!

Agony for Simbine while Van Niekerk secures semifinal spot

There was more major championship heartbreak for Akani Simbine after he was disqualified from the 100m semifinals at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday for a false start.

All our World Championship coverage is proudly fuelled by PUMA South Africa.

“I’m disappointed. I’ve never false started on the circuit, never false started at a championship, so I’m just very disappointed,” said a devastated Simbine. “I just know that I moved when the gun said go, because I’m generally a slow starter. But it is what it is.”

In Simbine’s absence in the evening final, it was Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo who brought glory to Southern Africa. The 20-year-old star stormed to a silver medal in a national record time of 9.88 behind American Noah Lyles who took gold in 9.83.

Earlier in the day Wayde van Niekerk cruised to victory in his opening 400m heat in a time of 44.57 to qualify for the semifinals. Zakithi Nene made a blunder at the end of his race to allow two athletes in front of him at the finish to deny him automatic qualification. His time of 44.88 was enough to see him safely through to the semifinals as one of the fastest losers, however.

Speaking after the race, Van Niekerk said: “The heats and the semifinals are about surviving so I had to read my competitors and gauge off of them. That’s what I did in the heats and I think it should be a similar strategy in the semis and then in the final we’ll give it what we’ve got left.”

Nene reckoned he would learn from his mistakes, saying: “I judged the race well to about 300 or 320m, and I thought the race was over then before it was even over. So that’s on me, poor judgement of the race but I’ll fix it in the semi.”

Also through to the women’s 400m semifinals was Zeney van der Walt, who is doubling up at these championships – also competing in the 400m hurdles. The Commonwealth Games bronze medallist finished third in her 400m heat in 51.76 to book a spot in Monday’s semifinals. She’ll also be contesting the 400m hurdles heats on Monday, with just over two hours to recover between the two races.

“It feels really great, it feels amazing to advance to the semifinals and I’m very excited,” said Van der Walt. “My coach and I decided to do both events this year to take the challenge and to see how my body can manage it and to use it as a stepping stone here.”

Our team on the ground at Budapest have been interviewing all South African athletes after their respective events. To get an inside view into strategy and their thoughts on their performances, click the button below to see for yourself what it takes to compete on a world stage!


Watch Day Two's Highlights