As the world’s fastest human Usain Bolt eyes retirement, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk prepares to inherit the throne by targeting the 100 meters and 200m world records.
The 24-year-old was at his absolute best when he stunned the Rio Olympics last year by clocking 43.03 seconds to go past Michael Johnson’s long-standing one-lap record in the Men’s 400m event. Johnson’s record stood for a period of 17 years.
Furthermore, Wayde praised Usain Bolt for inspiring him before the record-breaking performance.
“A lot of people say, ‘Wayde, you need to be more of an entertainer. I am not that type but I see qualities I share with Usain Bolt, and that brings a form of comfort even if it won’t sell T-shirts. I got to realize we are all human beings and that what’s possible for him (Bolt) is possible for me. His environment is no different to ours. That was a massive confidence-booster,” said the South African.
Following changes to the World Championship schedule, Wayde has an opportunity to win the 200 and 400 meters event at the same competition. The first round of the Men’s 200m event was moved from day five to day four. However, Bolt will certainly be at his best as the 200m event is set to be his final race before retirement.
For Wayde, it will be a one-off as he will never have another opportunity to compete and win besides the Jamaican superstar.
This year’s world championship is scheduled to be held at the London’s Olympic Stadium from the 4th to the 13th August.
Wayde is the first man to run 100m in less than 10 seconds, 200m in under 20 seconds and 400m in 44 seconds. If he manages to achieve his goals, he will go down as the fastest ever on the track with records in all three races.
“I am a 100, 200 and 400 athlete so will dream for every record there is. What sort of an athlete would I be if I didn’t? Speed is why I do track and field. I love going fast. That’s where my alter ego takes over. I live for speed. That’s the draw for me. Every time I ran in the heats and semi in Rio I felt my hamstring at the 200 meters mark. I thought, ‘Please don’t come, I don’t want to feel the pain.’ In the race, I spent 200 meters waiting for that feeling. When it didn’t come I thought I would push harder. The presence of my family and fiancée played a massive role. I even completed a victory lap when normally I go to the locker room and close myself in to die,” said Wayde van Niekerk.
At the age of 24, Wayde has a very long way to go as a professional athlete. He at least has three more Olympic Games in the tank. Wayde is coached by Anna Botha, a 74-year-old great grandmother whom refers to as Aunt Annie.
“At the age of 24, achieving a record that’s been there forever, I feel like I still have so much more to prove. This is the beginning of so much more that I can do as an athlete so why not believe,” he concluded.
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