For decades now, the World Championships have presented a platform for talents to be showcased. African male quarter-milers have come a long way, from Innocent Egbunike’s Silver at Rome 1987, to Wayde Van Niekerk’s GOLD nearly 30 years later in Beijing and London respectively. Africa has produced medal prospects at every single edition of the World Championships and there seems to be no slowing down in 2023.
The 2023 season for African male quarter-milers has been a blend of resurgence, redemption, and rejuvenation, both for the rookies and their more experienced counterparts. While the newbies strive to make a name for themselves, the old timers are pushing the limits to defy all odds and demonstrate that age is just a number.
World Record (WR) holder, Wayde Van Niekerk who faced a setback in his career in 2018 after an injury, will be hoping to win his third 400m World title in Budapest, having finished 5th in Oregon last year. The South African ran 44.08s at the Silesia Diamond League where he emerged victorious, which is his fastest time post-injury. He made it back-to-back wins after dominating the 400m at the London Diamond League, his best performance in the run-up to the World Championships since 2017.
African and Commonwealth Games Champion, Muzala Samukonga, the quarter-mile prodigy from Zambia who didn’t make the final at the 2022 edition, will be hoping to surpass that performance by making the podium or even clinching the GOLD medal.
Samukonga ran his first ever sub-44 (43.94s) – the 3rd African to achieve such a feat – to win the Botswana Grand Prix back in April. That was the World Lead (WL) until Steven Gardiner bettered it in July at the Gyulai Istvan Meet. Currently, the youngster is in rehabilitation picking an injury at the Silesia Diamond League. In a press statement released on the 1st of August, Samukonga said he hopes to get fit before the championships commence.
Bayapo Ndori is another athlete on our radar. He’s been Botswana’s top 400m runner in the last couple of years and placed 6th in the final of both the 400m and 4×400m last year in Oregon. Ndori clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 44.61 at the Botswana Athletics Series in April and later equalled it at the Silesia Diamond League where placed 2nd. Ndori will be hoping to be the first Batswana to win an individual medal in the men’s event in World Championships history.
Zakithi Nene is one of South Africa’s promising quarter-milers. He made his debut at the World Championships last year where he got to the semifinals. Two months later, he bettered his PB to 44.72 at the Weltklasse Zurich. Nene equalled his PB this year at the Silesia Diamond League. He competes regularly in the European circuit and has a Diamond League victory on his resume, which was in Stockholm. He will be aspiring to better his debut campaign in Budapest.
Lythe Pillay, the reigning World U-20 Champion in the 400m is a part of the African quarter-milers that just transited into the senior ranks. He went under 45s for the first time at the South Africa Championships, recording a 44.80 and 44.94s in two days of competition. He would be hoping to have a memorable outing in his World Championships debut.
Dubem Nwachukwu has had quite a remarkable season, lowering his PB from 46.13s to 44.81s. The Nigerian who studies at Arizona State University, ran sub-45s three times. He clocked 44.81s and 44.92s respectively in the semifinals and final of the NCAA Championships. He will be hoping to have a good outing probably make the final, where he could be the first Nigerian since 1995 after Sunday Bada to make the final.
Other prospects include Leungo Scotch (44.82s) and Busang Collen Kebinatshipi (44.92s).