London: South African athletics star Wayde van Niekerk set out in his bid to win the 200 metres world title in impressive fashion on Monday, easing into the semi-finals just 24 hours before he runs in the 400m final.
The 25-year-old — who broke the 400m world record in winning Olympic gold last year — is hoping to emulate American legend Michael Johnson in 1995 by winning 200m and 400m world gold.
Van Niekerk eased up considerably in the straight and enjoyed a playful duel with British runner Daniel Talbot — exchanging grins and then shaking hands just as they crossed the line.
Van Niekerk was joined in the semis by team-mate Akani Simbine, a 100m finalist.
"It's the first time I've run a 200m at a major championship, so I'm pretty happy with that progression through to the next round," said Simbine.
"I'm confident and happy with where I'm at.
"I'm still learning how to run the 200m and how to navigate the curve, but it's all learning and experience for the future."
Botswana's Isaac Makwala, though, will not attempt the double as the 31-year-old opted to sit out the 200m, missing his heat seemingly to save himself for Tuesday's 400m final.
In his absence, 19-year-old Zambian Sydney Siame caught the eye pulling away from an experienced field to win in a national record of 20.39sec, sending a Zambian supporter in the crowd into a rapturous bout of dancing.
"I have been preparing for this for so long. I have been running 100m all season to make sure I had the speed for the 200m. It has really helped me and I'm happy to get this result.
"I am delighted to have got the national record," said Siame.
"My focus is now to get straight into the final.
"That would be the biggest achievement for me.
"At the last world championships (2015) I was eliminated in the first round.
"I've experienced the rounds but I want to be in the top eight."
While he left with a beaming smile there was only a scowl from Jamaica's Warren Weir, the 27-year-old Olympic and world medallist could only finish fourth behind Siame and failed to progress as one of the fastest losers.
His compatriot, the 2011 100m world champion Yohann Blake looked strong in his first round heat, storming round the bend before easing up while marking himself down as a contender.
However, he looked slow in comparison to young Trinidadian Jereem Richards who cruised home metres ahead of American rival Kyree King.
Another of Turkey's imports from abroad, Azerbaijan-born Ramil Guliyev booked his place in the semi-finals with an impressive win in his heat ahead of American Ameer Webb.
Published Date: Aug 08, 2017 01:18 am | Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 01:18 am