While Wayde van Niekerk opened his season with a relatively pedestrian result in challenging conditions in Potchefstroom yesterday, some of his compatriots shone at the ASA Athletix Invitational in Roodepoort.

Running into a strong headwind, Van Niekerk won the men’s 200m race in an unofficial time of 20.64 seconds at the ACNW Open provincial meeting.

Though he was well off his half-lap career best of 19.84, the 400m world record holder said he was pleased to return to the track for the new campaign, after making a comeback last year from a serious knee injury, as he geared up to defend his Olympic one-lap title in Tokyo in August.

“I have to accept the conditions,” Van Niekerk said.

“The wind was a bit strong, but we all had that challenge and I took it as it came. I’m happy.”

Wayde van Niekerk

Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk. Picture: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Elsewhere, at the ASA Invitational, Akani Simbine opened his 2021 campaign with an explosive effort, taking the men’s 100m race in 10.00.

Though he had a 2.1m/s tailwind, and the time will not officially be recorded, Simbine displayed his intent ahead of his own medal charge at the Tokyo Games, holding off a challenge from in-form countryman Lux Adams.

In the field, Cheswill Johnson built on his impressive early-season form, winning the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.14m, with three men going beyond the eight-metre mark.

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Kyle Blignaut was equally impressive in the men’s shot put, securing victory with a heave of 20.85m, just five centimetres short of his personal best, while Jason van Rooyen also sent the shot sailing beyond 20 metres with a 20.24m effort.

Despite falling short of the 60-metre mark, Sunette Viljoen did enough to win the women’s javelin throw, with her spear landing at 58.00m as she held off a challenge from Czech opponent Nikol Tabackova (57.15m).

The second and final leg of the ASA Athletix Invitational series will be held at Ruimsig next Tuesday.

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