Monday 30 May 2016 – 2:29pm
JOHANNESBURG – South African 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk will be looking to get his international season off to a good start when he competes in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it, I’m trying to build up some good momentum ahead of the African Championships. After that it will be the Olympics, so it’s all about momentum and staying healthy for Rio,” said Van Niekerk in a radio interview on Monday.
Van Niekerk made history earlier this year by becoming the first sprinter in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100m, 20 seconds for 200m and 44 seconds for 400m. In 2015, Van Niekerk became the fourth-fastest man in history for 400m when he ran 43.48 second to win the world title in Beijing.
Following his performances last year, the 23-year-old will be a heavy favourite in every 400m race he enters including at the Olympics.
“I’m happy with where I am at the moment, and I’m feeling good for the season [ahead]. There’s so much more that I can do this year. I’ll just take it race by race.
“I’m going to give it my all, and trying to get some positive emotions going so I can get to the Olympics without any doubts and feeling confident.”
Van Niekerk, however, will have his work cut out once again this season as he lines up against 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada and 2008 Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt of the USA on several occasions in the next few months.
“The competition is going to be quite tough. It’s going to be a big challenge this year, that’s why it’s so important to stay focussed on performing well before the Olympics. It’s big competition in the 400, running against guys who inspired me.”
Africa News Agency