- It was a challenge.

The competitors ran away from the beginning and I just tried to keep up.

I belong at 400 meters and I showed that I can still assert myself, says van Niekerk to World Athletics.

The Dutchman Jochem Dobber was just behind van Niekerk with 45.78 and the Pole Karol Zalewski third with 46.03.

Covid disease with long isolation

van Niekerk tested positive for covid-19 in early August and was quarantined for 25 days.

He fought a battle against the clock to be able to start competing this season.

- I really had to start over from scratch, says van Niekerk.

The last time he competed outside of South Africa was at the World Cup final in London 2017. Then he took a serious knee injury after an upset match in rugby over his life and almost erased the seasons 2018 and 2019.

It was in the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 that van Niekerk set a world record by winning 43.03 from lane eight.

In the pole vault Michaela Meijer won at 4.70 and then tried at the Swedish record height of 4.85 without success.