Sport / Athletics

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
8 Feb 2017
3:16 pm

The 400 made Wayde van Niekerk but he dreams of the shorter stuff

Heinz Schenk

South Africa's Olympic champion wants to juggle defending his 400m world title with the 100m and 200m, his true passion.

Wayde van Niekerk isn't content just dominating the 400m. He wants more. Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images.

He’s the Olympic champion in the 400m and boasts the fastest time ever too – that magnificent 43.03 in selfsame Rio.

But Wayde van Niekerk isn’t too keen to limit himself to the distance that’s shot him to stardom the past two years.

“I definitely won’t be neglecting the 400m,” the 24-year-old, who is also the reigning 400m World Champion, told Laureus.

“There is so much more I can achieve in the 400m. But at the same time I want to go back to the 100m and 200m. That’s why I started track and field in the first place.

“I’d like to put more effort there and try and achieve great things within my event and within the 100m and 200m as well. I want to try and rewrite whatever history I can.”

Also read: Wayde van Niekerk wants a showdown with Usain Bolt … soon

Van Niekerk, despite his humble attitude, is known for pushing his boundaries.

He mentioned previously his appetite for the 400m was only truly whetted after watching Grenadian Kirani James galloping to gold in 2010’s World Junior Championships in Montcon, Canada.

Van Niekerk had finished fifth in the 200m.

It also explains why the Cape Town-born superstar downplays breaking Michael Johnson’s record, whose 43.18 had stood since 1999 before being “obliterated”.

“To be honest I was not a massive 400 metres fan when I was younger,” said Van Niekerk.

“I was more attracted to the shorter distances, but I got to know the 400m more and Michael’s definitely been a great part of track and field. It was a massive honour to be able to chase down the times that he set out and I’m really grateful that it is now under my name.”

He’s less forthcoming on his goals for the year, merely stating that 2016 was a “stepping stone” for greater things this year.

Yet, as previously reported, Van Niekerk’s representatives are already negotiating a schedule change for the World Championships in London, possibly enabling him to compete in the 200m against Usain Bolt.

Don’t bet against him managing that too.

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