CAPE TOWN – Wayde van Niekerk’s favourite hashtag is #QuietStorm, but it’s about to get loud in his world once again.
The 400m world record holder and Olympic champion will be making his first appearance on the track since moving to his US training base on Sunday, when he lines up in the 200m at the Adidas Boston Boost Games.
The event is held in the street, with special equipment used to host sprint races in Copley Square, about 10 minutes away from downtown Boston.
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Van Niekerk’s agent, Peet van Zyl, told Independent Media yesterday that the 28-year-old will finally run his first 400m race of 2021 next week in Florida, where he is under the tutelage of new coach Lance Brauman, who also has 200m world champion Noah Lyles and 400m women’s Olympic winner Shaunae Miller-Uibo in his training group.
Van Niekerk, under instruction from Brauman, has only run the half-lap event this year, with a season’s best time of 20.38 seconds. He did post a 20.10 in Johannesburg in late March, but a strong tail-wind of 2.1 metres per second meant that the time was not recognised.
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It’s all part of the bigger plan, though, to break his 43.03 world record he posted at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Van Niekerk technically hasn’t run a qualifying time yet in any event for Tokyo, but that is sure to come soon.
“To me, it’s about growth. And for me, growth means breaking a world record. Anyone else can say they want growth and then it would not be a world record necessarily, but mine is a record because at the moment I’m the record holder,” he said during an Instagram Live interview with Adidas Runners on Monday night.
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“So, to me, I want growth. To me I want an improvement. To me, I want times that are better than I currently have out there. So, that definitely means the world record, but with that being said as well, I want to be at the level that is somewhat untouchable, that’s somewhat out of reach and that’s, that’s where my mind is at, that is where I want to be.
“I want to own every record that I can now and that’s my dream, that’s my goal. I’m going to do the 100 and the 200 somewhere along the way as well, during the processes. I want to be the fastest, I want to be the greatest at every single event that I do.”
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Meanwhile, Van Niekerk’s good friend Akani Simbine is already at his European training base in Gemona, Italy.
Van Zyl said that the South African 100m record-holder has not yet been pencilled in for a race, due to having to isolate for 10 days as he did not receive the Covid-19 vaccine before leaving home.
That means he has to miss today’s Golden Spike event in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and the Gateshead Diamond League meeting on Sunday.
Long jump star Ruswahl Samaai is also in Gemona, and will compete in the FBK Games in the Netherlands on June 6.