Van Niekerk ready for 200m/400m double for new face of athletics

London, Aug 2, (GNA/dpa) – Wayde van Niekerk said Wednesday he is ready to become the new face of athletics and aims to underline it with a rare 200-metre and 400-metre double at the upcoming world championships.

The 25-year-old South African last year bettered Michael Johnson’s 400m world record as he won Olympic gold in 43.03 seconds. Now he is adding the 200m in London as he aims to emulate Johnson’s double from the 1995 worlds and 1996 Olympics.

American Johnson and outgoing sprint superstar Usain Bolt have named Van Niekirk as the man who can become the new face of the sport.

“It’s a massive honour to learn and rub shoulders with Usain. I had the opportunity to build a small relationship. It gives me a lot of excitement but at the same time a lot of responsibility,” Van Niekerk told reporters on a rainy afternoon.

Van Niekerk said he was ready for the gruelling schedule in London from Saturday onwards, with three rounds each in the 400m and the following 200m – where he won’t be racing Bolt because the Jamaican is concentrating on the 100m in his final big event.

“The biggest challenge is to finally apply it. It’s a big challenge for myself,” he said. “I am in my best shape and can do great things. I have to take it round by round, step by step.”

Source: Ghana News Agency