van Niekerk smashes Johnson’s long-standing record

South African Wayde van Niekerk smashed Michael Johnson’s long-standing 400m record when he stormed to Olympic gold on Sunday.

Van Niekerk, running in the lane eight, blasted off the final corner to time 43.03sec, 0.15sec quicker than Johnson’s previous world best set in Seville in 1999, a record that had taken on mythical-like standing.

“I believed I could get the world record,” the 24-year-old South African said.

“I’ve dreamed of this medal since forever. I am blessed.”

Defending champion Kirani James of Grenada took silver in 43.76s and American Lashawn Merritt bronze (43.85).

“Congrats to Wayde on the new world record. I’m happy to be part of a race that made history. We have put this sport on a pedestal,” James said, adding that 400m runners normally have the habit of tying up as they hit the home stretch.

“Usually that’s what happens, the guys slow down a bit! But when you keep going like that, there’s going to be world records. It shows that there’s always room for guys to improve. He just did that and exemplified that.”

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

The Grenadian set off fast in lane five, Merritt on his coat-tails on the inside with van Niekerk running solo out wide.

Caterine wins triple jump

In the women’s triple jump, Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen won the gold medal here on Sunday. Ibarguen, the reigning world champion, easily out-leaped her rivals with a longest jump 15.17m. Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won silver while defending Olympic champion Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan claimed bronze.

Jebet’s Asian record

Bahrain’s Kenyan-born Ruth Jebet produced an astonishing piece of front running to win gold in women’s 3000m steeplechase on Monday.

Jebet timed an Asian record of 8min 59.75s, missing out on the world record by less than a second. Reigning world champion Hyin Kiyeng Jepkemoi of Kenya took silver in 9:07.12, with American Emma Coburn claiming bronze (9:07.63).

Wlodarczyk’s new mark

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk smashed her own world record on her way to victory in the women’s hammer throw — four years after being denied gold by Russian dope cheat Tatyana Lysenko.

Wlodarczyk, widely regarded as the greatest women’s hammer thrower of all-time, heaved a monumental 82.29m on her third attempt to crush the competition at the Olympic Stadium.

Zhang Wenxiu of China took silver with a throw of 76.75m while Britain’s Sophie Hitchon claimed bronze with 74.54m.