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Wayde van Niekerk wins world record gold for SA at Rio Games

Van Niekerk led from start to finish blowing away his main competitors Kirani James and Lashawn Merritt.

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk celebrates winning the Men’s 400m Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 14 August, 2016. Picture: AFP.

RIO DE JANEIRO - South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk has produced a stunning world record to clinch gold for South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Running in lane eight, the 24-year-old world champion got off to a flier and was streaking clear on the back straight but he upped his pace even further in the second half of the race to better American Michael Johnson's 1999 mark of 43.18 seconds.

Van Niekerk looked as stunned as the crowd as he produced the greatest run of all time in the 400m to win gold in Rio.

Out in lane eight he led from start to finish blowing away his main competitors Kirani James and Lashawn Merritt who were hapless bystanders in his wake.

He first found his family in the crowd and embraces before doing a slow circuit of the adoring crowd draped in the South African flag.

The 100m final after that was almost an afterthought as Usain Bolt won his third consecutive title in 9.81 seconds and an excellent run from Akani Simbine who finished fifth.

Johnson, who won back-to-back Olympic titles in the event in 1996 and 2000, was dumbfounded by the quality of Van Niekerk's finish.

"Oh my God! From lane eight, a world record," Johnson said on the BBC. "He took it out so quick. I have never seen anything from 200 to 400 like that."

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