LONDON, Sporting Alert — Wayde van Niekerk began the defense of his 400m title with a comfortable shake out on Day 2 of the 2017 IAAF World Championships here in London on Saturday morning.
Van Niekerk, who is seeking to win gold in both the 400 and 200 meters over the next week, cruised through the opening 300m before lifting the hand break slightly in the final 100m to crossed in 45.27 seconds, still in a jog.
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American legend Michael Johnson, who owned the world record before last summer at Rio 2016 when Van Niekerk eclipsed his mark, believes the South African made the race a lot tougher than it should have been.
“You don’t wanna do that,” Johnson said about Van Niekerk’s first 300m during his BBC Sports commentary. “It wasn’t good race management for him.”
“That takes a lot of energy (to change gears) but he can afford to get away with that. He’s Van Niekerk.”
The South African easily beat Nery Brenes of Costa Rica who came home in 45.71 with Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago taking third in 45.77.
Another medal contender, Isaac Makwala of Botswana was the quickest of the first round after he ran 44.55 seconds to win the fourth heat over American 2013 world and 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt (45.00).
NCAA and American champion Fred Kerley was the comfortable winner of heat 1 with a time of 44.92.
However, Johnson was not a fan of his showboating antics over the last 60m.
“I didn’t like the antics,” Johnson said.