Olivier, Van Niekerk in strong showing for SA | SASCOC - SASCOC

Olivier, Van Niekerk in strong showing for SA

By Mark Etheridge

South African duo Andre Olivier and Wayde van Niekerk both resumed their European campaigns in successful style on Thursday night.

The two were competing at the IAAF Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic and both ended up on the podium, in second spot.

London Olympian Olivier returned to Europe and resumed just as he left with another sub-1min 45sec showing in the 800-metre… his fifth on the trot. And Van Niekerk produced a personal best in his event, the one-lap 400m event.

Olivier’s time of 1:44.45, behind world indoor champion Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia (1:43.78) is all the more commendable as he ended up being boxed in at one stage.

“I had a good first 300m, then some Kenyans passed me in the back straight. I got badly boxed from the 200m mark but had a good last 100m and got through them,” Olivier told Road to Rio 2016.

“Aman was just too far ahead and a little bit too strong but I’m running against him again on Sunday in Birmingham so let’s hope I can give him more of a run for his money! I’m happy with the time as consistency is the most important thing before Moscow and I know the big one is coming so I’m not worried about that.”

As for Van Niekerk, he was part of a history-making race in the 400m. Grenada’s World and Olympic champion Kirani James beat the 44.70 meeting record of Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena 37-year-old record set in 1976.

James clocked 44.49 with Van Niekerk’s personal best 45.09 (his previous best was 45.42) giving him second spot, ahead of Pavel Maslak, the European champion.

Van Niekerk, more comfortable over the 100 and 200m distances, is still getting used to the one-lap challenge. “I still don’t like it.. it’s really a huge adjustment I have to get used to. The race itself I started a little slow because I was still uncertain about my health seeing that I had some pain last week.

“So I only started kicking the last 200 to 150. As expected the last 40m was deadly.

“The hamstring is definitely improving but it does have its days and then after a hard session I still get pain in my hips and adductor muscles,” said Van Niekerk whose next race was supposed to be the World Student Games in Russia but the SA athletes in the squad have been left in limbo after ongoing administrative ructions in the world of South African athletics.