Wayde van Niekerk poses with the gold during the 400m medal ceremony at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Picture: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Wayde van Niekerk poses with the gold during the 400m medal ceremony at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Picture: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

WATCH: Wayde van Niekerk breaks the 400m world record on this day in 2016

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 14, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - On this day, four years ago, Wayde van Niekerk arguably provided the most memorable moment of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The South African sprint superstar broke Michael Johnson’s 400m men’s world record of 43.18 with a blistering run from the dreaded outside lane.

Van Niekerk recorded a time of 43.03 that stunned the crowd, and had 100m king Usain Bolt looking up at the big screen in disbelief.

Unfortunately, though, Van Niekerk suffered a knee injury while participating in a celebrity touch-rugby match in October 2017 and hasn’t been able to compete on the big stage since.

However, the Olympic champion Van Niekerk believes he can go even faster in future, and possibly even break the 43-second barrier for the 400m.

“It’s definitely a priority for me because why am I still here if I’m not seeking growth?” Van Niekerk told the BBC.

“Growth should be improving my times within the 42-second range. That’s where my mind is at; that’s where my heart is at.

"That's just the competitor in me and for me to settle for anything less than that would mean I'm doing an injustice to myself and the team working for me.

"I have this deep desire to be out of reach. And after coming out of a period of somewhat suffering, it makes me more hungry," added the two-times 400m world champion.

The 28-year-old, who is the cousin of Springbok Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe, admits he should never have accepted the invitation to play the charity event.

"My body was conditioned for running straight, not zig-zags. Later on you sit back and realise that the decision was obviously silly."

He admits that the injury he suffered while at the peak of his powers left him demoralised.

"The first two weeks were very difficult and showed signs of me climbing into a dark space. I had to start from scratch," he said.

"I had to tell myself from the beginning that I need to take responsibility for the decision I've made."

IOL Sport

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