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Wayde Van Niekerk Through to 400m Finals As Caster Semenya Fumbles
- 400 metres world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk survived a late scare to qualify for the finals at the World Athletics Championships
- Van Niekerk finished second in his heat to go through to his first final in five years after falling at the semi-final stage at the Tokyo Olympics
- Caster Semenya failed to advance to the semifinals of the 5000 metres after finishing in 13th place
It was a day of contrasting fortunes for South African athletes at the World Athletics Championships.
Wayde van Niekerk took another huge step toward winning yet another global medal in the 400 metres race when he finished second in his semi-final heat to qualify for the finals.
The world record holder has been out of sorts since suffering a nasty injury while playing rugby in October 2017. He got that injury approximately a year after winning the Rio Olympics in 2016 and setting the world record of 43.03 seconds.
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He has yet to return to his best and this year's final will be his first in over five years. He looked solid in the preliminary rounds but laboured to a second-place finish in the semis. He, however, did just enough to earn the automatic qualification spots with a time of 44.75 seconds.
Caster Semenya, meanwhile, wasn't as lucky as she failed to get out of the first round of the 5,000 metres women's race. Semenya was making a return to the World Championships after five years in the cold. World Athletics had similarly moved her from her preferred 800 metres race to longer distances due to gender eligibility issues.
She finished a lowly 13th in the races but was stoked to be able to complete the run. The double Olympic champion used 15:46.12, which was more than 45 seconds of the required time for the semifinals.
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Kenya stumbles again as they miss out on the 3,000 metres women's steeplechase
At the same time, Sports Brief reported that Team Kenya's poor showing at the World Athletics Championships continued on Thursday morning as her only representative Celiphine Chespol finished a disappointing thirteenth in the 3,000 metres women's steeplechase.
Chespol was the only athlete flying Kenya's flag in the final after all her compatriots failed to make it to the finals. The defending champion and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech failed to make it entirely to Oregon.
Chespol, who is a two-time World U-20 Champion in the races, got the going tough in the senior races. It was an even bitter experience for Kenyan fans as Norah Jeruto, a former Kenyan now turning out for Kazakhstan, bagged gold.