Nervy start for Van Niekerk in London

Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk was not at his best but still comfortably qualified for 400m semi-finals at the IAAF World Championships in London on Saturday morning.

The South African Olympic champion and world record holder did not make his usual fast start but still managed to clock 45.28 seconds to advance to the next round.

Van Niekerk was almost caught unawares down the home straight and had to produce a late kick to win.

The other heat winners were American Fred Kerley (44.92), Steve Gardiner of the Bahamas (44.75) and Botswanan pair Baboloki Thebe (44.82) and Isaac Makwala (44.55) – all of whom were faster than the world record holder.

The next step for Van Niekerk is the semi-finals on Sunday night, where he will no doubt be eyeing an improved performance.

He is also doubling in the 400m and 200m at London 2017 this year.