RUSTIG: Local sprinter Wayde van Niekerk

Only one sub-44 second time has been time posted in the men’s 400m this season, but world champion Wayde van Niekerk believes more is on the way at the Rio Olympic Games.

Former Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt of USA dipped below the magical mark to claim the favourites tag ahead of this weekend’s showdown - which starts with the heats tomorrow and culminates in Sunday’s final.

That is of course only based on the 43.97 seconds he ran at the American trials in June, while many of the front-runners have been relatively quiet this season, but it could be the storm brewing.

Wayde says: “The guys are looking sharp this year but obviously a sub-44 would probably win it.

“It’s been shown every year that a sub-44 is what it will take and there’s about five guys that have done it this far so we’ll see. It’s going to be very tough and hopefully I’ll be in there with them.”

Last year Wayde produced the sixth fastest time ever, clocking 43.48 seconds to claim the world title in Beijing.

Going into the Games as the world champion, and with the third fastest time this season of 44.11s, Van Niekerk is considered one of the favourites.

The local champ admits he feels some pressure on the Olympic stage but he has made peace with the fact it would always be there.

He adds: “Is there any less pressure in sport? I mean there’s always pressure if you like it or not.

“I can go into an SAs and I’ll have pressure, so it’s always there, it’s always part of the game. It’s why we do what we do.”