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Wayde van Niekerk wins 400-meter final in 43.03, smashing world record

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa won the men's 400-meter final in world-record time Sunday night, smashing Michael Johnson's 17-year-old record from the outside lane to finish in 43.03 seconds.

Van Niekerk, 24, stormed out of the blocks and held off 2012 champion Kirani James (43.76) of Grenada and the United States' LaShawn Merritt (43.85). He became the first South African to win an Olympic gold medal on the track since 1928, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Merritt earned his third Olympic medal; he previously won the event at the 2008 Beijing Games in addition to the men's 4x400-meter relay. He did not finish the qualifying race in London after reinjuring his left hamstring.

Johnson set the previous world record of 43.18 at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain.Van Niekerk's previous personal record was 43.48.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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