Athletics

Van Niekerk: I still have much more to prove

Wayde van Niekerk (Supplied)
Wayde van Niekerk (Supplied)

Cape Town - Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk says that he still has so much more to prove as an athlete leading up to the IAAF World Championships in London in August.

Van Niekerk made history at the 2016 Rio showpiece when he dismantled American Michael Johnson's long-standing one-lap record, crossing the 400m line in 43.03 seconds.

"At the age of 24, achieving a record that's been there forever, I feel like I still have so much more to prove," Van Niekerk told the IAAF Inside Athletics show.

"This is the beginning of so much more that I can do as an athlete so why not believe."

Van Niekerk says that after achieving success in the 400m, he now wants to focus on the 100m and 200m sprints.

"200m is my favourite event, it's why I do track and field, because I want to achieve so much in the 200, but due to circumstances and injuries I didn't get the opportunity to get into that door," he added.

"But now that I achieved what I have in the 400m, it gives me more opportunity to focus on the 200m and even the 100m. I really enjoy doing both."

The South African's sprinting preparations started well after he finished second in the ASA Speed Series Meeting in Bloemfontein.

Van Niekerk finished second in the 100m with a time of 10.10 behind 18-year-old Gift Leotlela (10.00), despite the race facing a technical glitch with the electronic timing system.

After Van Niekerk's Olympic success, he became South Africa's golden boy and won multiple awards including the South African Sport Star of the Year award and SA Sportsman of the Year award.

He was also named the Best Male Athlete of the 2016 Rio Games by the Association of International Olympic Committees (Anoc) and was nominated in the Breakthrough of the Year category, losing out to reigning F1 world champion Nico Rosberg earlier this year.

Van Niekerk believes that after winning his gold medal, he gave his country a lot of hope when it comes to developing athletic talent.

"Where I come from, South Africa, you always think United States, Jamaica or Europe. That's where you need to make it and where you can start breaking barriers," said Van Niekerk.

"That's become a kind of habit in South Africa where once you finish with school, you go over to the USA.

"I always had something deep inside of me telling me, 'you can do it right here in South Africa' and inspire more South Africans to do it."

Watch full interview below:

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