World record for Wayde

CARLI-ANN FURNO
Wayde van Niekerk made history in the early hours of Monday 15 August when he became the world’s 400 m Olympic champion. He broke Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record with a time of 43.03 s. His competitors included gold medallists Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt.

Fans were nervous about Van Niekerk’s position leading up to the race, as he was set to take the outside line. Athletes who compete in this lane are described as “running blind”, without an awareness of the distance from their competitors. Van Niekerk held his lead from the start of the race as commentators questioned whether he would be able to keep up his pace.

Approaching the last 100 m mark, it seemed as if the sprinter was slowing down, when he shocked onlookers with a sudden increase in pace that left other participants trailing across the finish line after him.

In an interview with Game On Magazine earlier this year, Van Niekerk described the difficulty of running the 400 m: “There are moments when I want to give up. But approaching that last stretch, there is always this voice that whispers deep within me, and tells me that it is time to run.” The athlete has developed a close friendship with UP’s Akani Simbine over recent years. Ahead of the Olympics, on 4 June the two travelled to Jamaica to train with Olympic star Usain Bolt. Bolt commented on Wayde’s victory and said, “I told him he could do it. I’m really proud of him.”

 

Image: Business Insider

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