Wayde van Niekerk broke Michael Johnson’s world record 43.18 to win the 400m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in a stunning time of 43.03.

The South African, running in lane eight, went out hard, knowing that the past two Olympic champions – Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt – were on his inside.

Merritt appeared to be closing on Van Niekerk coming into the home straight, but the world champion was able to respond and maintained his form down to the line, stopping the clock at 43.03.

Van Niekerk’s time took 0.15 off the record Johnson set at the 1999 IAAF World Championships in Seville.

James edged ahead of Merritt to take silver in 43.76, while Merritt crossed the line in 43.85 to take bronze. Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago was fourth in a national record of 44.01.

In a race of unprecedented depth, the top seven men all finished within 44.50 and all finalists ran faster than 44.70.