Van Niekerk express lights up the Bird's Nest

Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:33pm EDT
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By Nick Mulvenney

BEIJING (Reuters) - Wayde van Niekerk lit up the Bird's Nest with a stunning 400 meters run to win a first sprint gold for South Africa and cap a night of exceptional performances at the world championships on Wednesday.

Two of those came in the men's javelin and women's 3,000 meters steeplechase where Kenyans Julius Yego and Hyvin Jepkemoi added another two gold medals to the East African powerhouse's already considerable haul.

The scourge of doping returned to haunt the sport, however, when two of their compatriots were provisionally banned for failing drug tests on the eve of the championships.

Part two of the sprint showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, which for many has encapsulated the doping crisis that has tarnished the sport over the last month, also moved a step closer.

The fact that Bolt has never failed a dope test while Gatlin has served two drug bans provided the backdrop for their first meeting in Sunday's 100 meters final, from which the Jamaican emerged triumphant.

Gatlin's run of 19.87 seconds to win his 200m semi-final on Wednesday was the second fastest ever at that stage of a world championships, however, and will give him confidence he can end Bolt's six-year grip on the title in Thursday's final.

"I think that I have a lot left in the tank," the 33-year-old American said. "I just have to control the race ... and I think we'll be able to bring it home."

Bolt also looked in fine form, though, and took time to chat to a fellow competitor as he approached the line to win his heat with his first sub-20 second time of the year (19.95).   Continued...

Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa reacts after winning the men's 400m final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson