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South African Wayde van Niekerk smashes Michael Johnson's 400m world record

South African Wayde van Niekerk smashes Michael Johnson's 400m world record

Brazil

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk ran the fastest single lap in history to win the 400 metres Olympic gold medal in 43.03 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record on Sunday.

Running an extraordinary race in lane eight, the 24-year-old world champion got off to a flier and was streaking clear on the back straight before upping his pace even further to better U.S. runner Johnson’s mark of 43.18 seconds set in 1999.

Despite Van Niekerk being the world champion, his underwhelming heat runs had meant all eyes were on James and Merritt.

The trio had produced one of the races of the year in the 400m final at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, with all of them going under 44 seconds as the South African emerged victorious.

The victory also marked the first time anyone has won an Olympic gold medal in the men’s 400m from lane eight.