Athletics: Wayde's winning return sees Olympic 400m champion set year's fastest time

South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk on his way to setting a meet record in the 400m at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne. The world record holder finished in 43.62sec.
South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk on his way to setting a meet record in the 400m at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne. The world record holder finished in 43.62sec.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Olympic champ races in his pet event again and storms to 400m victory in Lausanne

LAUSANNE • Wayde van Niekerk cruised to victory in the Diamond League 400m on Thursday in his first international race in the one-lap event since he set the world record at last year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The South African ran 43.03 seconds to break American Michael Johnson's world record in Rio. And he looked sharp as he set a meet record of 43.62sec in Lausanne, bettering Johnson once again. The American's record here had stood since 1996.

Botswana's Baboloki Thebe (44.02sec) and Isaac Makwala (44.08sec) grabbed second and third respectively. Van Niekerk's time was the fastest in 2017.

"I didn't come with a specific time in mind but I am pleased with this result," said van Niekerk, who started the season focusing on the shorter events.

"I have a love-hate relationship with the 400m, but I always try to approach it with a positive mindset, not setting myself any limits."

American Justin Gatlin warmed up for next month's world championships with a win in the 100m in a time of 9.96sec, beating Ivorian Ben Youssef Meite (9.98sec) who took second place.

"I felt good. Getting to the line, I had top speed to finish strong," Gatlin said.

"I'm consistent, under 10 seconds, I'm getting stronger. Now I have a month to train and (to) see a new me at the world championships."

Meanwhile, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has apologised to Mo Farah and other big names whose personal medical information was leaked by the Russian hackers Fancy Bears and admitted the breach of security had put informers at risk.

Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, said he feared that the sustained data attack - between last December and early April this year before being discovered and closed - had damaged the fight against cheats.

"There can be no excuse for the leaking of personal and medical data or the releasing of information on informants and ongoing investigations as this puts those individuals involved at risk and harms the fight against doping," he said.

"However, we must acknowledge that we need to look at our processes."

Farah's was one of those whose athlete biological passport was revealed to have been investigated in November 2015 in the hack by Fancy Bears.

In one file, beside the 34-year-old's name and under the headline "hematological expert opinion" is the comment: "Likely doping; Passport suspicious: further data is required."

However, a second database, attached to an e-mail dated April 2016, records "now flagged as normal with the last sample".

Farah's representatives have strongly denied any wrongdoing and suggested that "any suggestion of misconduct is entirely false and seriously misleading".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2017, with the headline 'Wayde's winning return'. Print Edition | Subscribe