South African Athletics

Van Niekerk remains level headed

2015-07-16 08:29
Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo Images)

Watch as South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk storms to victory over a strong field in the Paris leg of the Diamond League.

Johannesburg - With maturity that belies his years, Wayde van Niekerk is taking his meteoric rise as one of the world's top athletes in his stride.

Van Niekerk has for long shown immense potential which has been translated into a flurry of superb results in the past two years.

On the eve of his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, Van Niekerk set a new national 200m record and became the first South African to dip below 20 seconds over this distance.

Running in the 'B' final at a meeting in Lucerne he shaved 0.10 seconds off the 20.04 Olympic finalist Anaso Jobodwana set in May.

Was he surprised by his latest feat?

"Not really, I always believed I could, just had to be patient for the day it actually comes," Van Niekerk told Sport24.

Van Niekerk blitzed to a time of 19.94 with Alonso Edward of Panama taking silver in 20.03 and Japan's Kenji Fujimitsu bagging bronze with 20.13.

This follows in the wake if his sub-44 second 400m a fortnight ago.

In the process he joined an exclusive club of athletes to have run both distances below the dream barriers.

The only other three athletes to have achieved this are Botswana's Isaac Makwala and Americans Michael Johnson and LaShawn Merritt.

"It's definitely a blessing. It's truly just a honour to even be named alongside such great athletes," Van Niekerk said.

"I'll just keep pushing and fighting, trying to become a better athlete and leave the rest in God's hands."

Johnson is the only athlete in history to have won both the 200m and the 400m at the same World Championships and Olympic Games.

He first won the double at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden before repeating this achievement at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Athletics supporters are rubbing their hands with glee over the prospect of seeing Van Niekerk in both races at a major championship.

The athlete would, however, not allow his success run away with his imagination.

"World champs is going to be a bigger challenge so I'll just keep it simple and stick to the basics and try and do as best as possible," he said.

"I really don't know (if he will ever consider doing the double), I haven't really thought that far yet, I just first want to do well the next two years and then see from there."

Van Niekerk now boasts with the 200m, 300m and 400m national records.

Ockert attended the IAAF World Youth Championships courtesy of the IAAF. His accommodation was paid for by the Colombian athletics federation.

Read more on:    wayde van niekerk  |  athletics

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