Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk claimed his second South African record in a month when he lowered the national mark in the 200m on Tuesday night in Lucerne.
Van Niekerk clocked 19.94, breaking the 20-second barrier and the record of 20.04 set by Anaso Jobodwana at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on May 30.
His fastest 200m time before Tuesday was a 20.59 run in Cape Town in May.
Van Niekerk is on a hot streak at the moment having beaten the 400m Olympic champion, Kirani James, this month as they continued to warm up for the World Championships. The University of Free State student lowered the SA 400m record to 43.96 seconds in that race in Paris, becoming the first South African to break the 44-second barrier in the one-lap event.
Speaking to supersport.com before he left for Europe, Van Niekerk was coy about his chances in the 200m.
“The 400m is my main event now (his trainer Ans Botha had him switch from the 200m for endurance training). It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I favour the 200m but the 400m is what we’re focusing on for now,” he said. “We’re focusing on my strengths and the 400m is where my talent shines.”
The new South African record makes Van Niekerk the third-fastest athlete in the world this year in the 200m. Only Justin Gatlin and Isaiah Young – both of the United States – have gone faster. Gatlin has four times between 19.57 and 19.92, while Young ran 19.93 in Eugene.
Van Niekerk has the third-fastest 400m time this year, his 43.96 bettered only by Isaac Makwala (43.72) and Kirani James (43.95).