Wayde to tackle 200 and 400 m in London

Wayde van Niekerk (second from left) in action in the 100 m sprint at the ASA Speed Series II meet in Bloemfontein. On the night 18-year-old Gift Leotlela (left) stunned the 400 m world champion, while Emile Erasmus (third from right) cruised into third. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The IAAF has approved the 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk’s request to change the scheduling of the World Championships later this year.

This will allow the defending 400 m champion (Van Niekerk) to compete in this number as well as in the 200 m sprint.

This has generated a lot of excitement in the athletics world, and it even has the IAAF President, Sebastian Coe, excited.

At this stage the Jamaican sprinting sensation, Usain Bolt, has only entered to run in the 100 m, but may decide to go head to head with Van Niekerk in the 200 m.

Van Niekerk’s coach, Ans Botha, told Courant that one cannot forget about the other South African sprinters such as the SA 200 m record holder, Anaso Jobodwana. She said that Van Niekerk versus Jobodwana in London will be something special.

“You know, I really believe that this is truly something to look forward to. Our South African sprinters have shown such a great improvement in the past year and a half that it is really something that we can get excited about. In terms of our sprinters we are competing and talking with the best the world has to offer.

“When I refer to our sprinters, I’m referring to our 100 m, 200 and 400 m athletes.”
This all of course gives Van Niekerk an opportunity to emulate Michael Johnson’s 200/400 m double at the same World Championships, which he achieved in in Gothenburg in 1995.

Last year Van Niekerk broke Johnson’s 400 m world record at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to set the new benchmark at 43.03 seconds.

Van Niekerk will be competing in the ASA Senior National Championships in Potchefstroom this week.

The 2017 IAAF World Championships will be held in London from 4 to
13 August. – MORGAN PIEK