South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk became the fourth fastest man in history as he emerged victorious from a gripping 400 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
Van Niekerk amassed an early lead before fending off LaShawn Merritt and Olympic gold medallist Kirani James to win in 43.48 seconds.
Van Niekerk was carted off on a stretcher after the race, unable to complete a lap of honour.
However, South African team leader, Peter Lourens later said it was exhaustion.
“It’s exhaustion. They are taking him to hospital for observation.”
Van Niekerk has to be stretchered off the track That’s how champions are made pic.twitter.com/b3QBcdhuUT
— SPIKES (@spikesmag) August 26, 2015
It marked an astonishing rise for the 23-year-old, whose previous best result was a silver medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The pre-race attention focused on James’ bid to recapture his world crown, but he was unable to claw back the deficit in the home straight as he was forced to settle for third.