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Wayde van Niekerk & Sha’Carri Richardson qualify for Olympics, Caster Semenya misses out

Van Niekerk broke American Michael Johnson’s world record in becoming Olympic champion in 2016

Wayde van Niekerk has qualified to defend his men’s Olympic 400m title at this summer’s Games in Tokyo.

The South African, 28, ran 44.56 seconds, which is inside the required 44.90secs standard, in finishing second behind Anthony Jose Zambrano in Spain.

Van Niekerk set the 400m world record in winning gold at Rio 2016 but has since struggled with injury.

Meanwhile, his compatriot Caster Semenya again failed to qualify for the women’s 5,000m in Tokyo.

The double Olympic 800m champion ran 15:57.12, which did not meet the 15:10 qualifying mark, as she finished fourth in a race in Germany.

Semenya previously ran 15:52.28 in April and 15:32.15 in May in trying to secure her place.

She is not allowed to compete in events between 400m and one mile without taking testosterone-reducing drugs following a rule introduced by World Athletics in 2019.

Semenya refuses to take testosterone-reducing drugs, arguing that it could endanger her health and that the ruling denies her and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) the right to rely on their natural abilities.

At the United States Olympic track and field trials, Sha’Carri Richardson booked her place for Tokyo after running 10.86 to win the women’s 100m.

“This year has been crazy for me,” said 21-year-old Richardson after an emotional win in Eugene, Oregon. “I’m still here, last week finding out my biological mother passed away.

“And still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still making the family that I do have on this earth proud.”

Javianne Oliver (10.99) and Teahna Daniels (11.03) finished second and third respectively as they also booked their Olympic 100m spots.

Richardson had run 10.64 in the semi-finals, with only Jamaica’s Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce having run quicker when she became the second-fastest woman in history after registering 10.63 this month.

The International Olympic Committee has set a 29 June deadline for athletes wanting to compete in Japan to secure qualification.

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