Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Wayde van Niekerk, Akani Simbine and Springbok skipper Warren Whiteley at the sponsorship launch. Photo: @WaydeDreamer via Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – After walking away with gold and silver in the 200m and 400m at last month’s IAAF World Championships in London, Wayde van Niekerk now sees a 100m-200m double on the way.

Speaking at an adidas sponsorship launch in Johannesburg on Thursday, Van Niekerk reiterated his desire to win silverware in both shorter distances at next year’s Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, Australia.

“It is the only plan right now, and I am excited wanting to double. It is a new style, and environment I need to get myself into,” Van Niekerk said.

“Hopefully I can prove to myself that I belong in all three events.”

The 400m world record-holder became only the second South African to retain a world title when racing to gold in the one-lap sprint in London, before clinching the silver in the 200m.

Van Niekerk fell painstakingly short of becoming only the second man to win the 200m-400m double gold after Michael Johnson in Gothenburg 1995.

The sprinting phenom admitted the six consecutive days of racing – half of the time in cold and wet conditions – had taken its toll during the championships

“It was a massive challenge from day one, and I knew six days of racing would take a lot out of me,” Van Niekerk said.

“I think I strategised quite well, but conditions made life 10 times (more difficult) than it could have been.”

Van Niekerk’s ambitions for another 200m-400m double may be dead and buried, but he believes he has grown in mental fortitude due to the challenge.

“Altogether I feel it was a massive success, the goal was to get medals, and I got a gold and a silver,” he said.

“As a South African it is massive, we’ve never reached that kind of heights as a nation.

“Personally I’ve got way more respect for myself, way more conference in myself to continue challenging myself in future.”

With the tough double done and dusted, Van Niekerk said he was looking to making further improvements in the one-lap sprint, but his main focus for next year will be the shorter distances.

“It was never really a dream for me to do the 200m-400m double, I just had to use the opportunity, I couldn’t let it slip,” Van Niekerk said.

“Everyone knows I’ve got love for the 100m and 200m.

“The next best choice would be to double up in the 100m and 200m, and I will give it a go.”

Boasting incredible versatility in the 100m, 200m and 400m, Van Niekerk is the only man to have gone below 10, 20 and 44 seconds respectively over the three distances.

Earlier this year, he improved his 100m personal best, which he set in March 2016, by clocking 9.94 seconds and improving it by 0.04.

He also raced into the record books in the 200m this season when he posted a new South African record time of 19.84 in Kingston, Jamaica.

Van Niekerk holds the fastest 400m time of 43.62 this year, and the second fastest in the half-lap sprint.

 

IOL Sport