Wayde van Niekerk - PC Trevlyn Palframan


200m – 19.94 (+0.6) – 6th on the World Rankings
400m – 43.96 – 3rd on the World Rankings

Van Niekerk was known as the ‘dangerous’ youngster in the 200m event after winning his first national senior 200m title in a blistering 20.57 seconds in 2011. The youngster was seen again in 2013, however, competing in the longer 400m event. His flawless running technique and cadence led him to another national title that quieted a few critics. The questions on everyone’s lips were: ‘What can’t this guy do?’ ‘Will it be 200m or 400m?’ ‘Where was he in 2012?’ and ‘is he the next South African 400m star?’

All of the above questions were already answered in 2014 when Van Niekerk went on to break the national 400m record. He finished 2nd in the 2014 New York Diamond League bettering the 400m national record to a blistering 44.38 seconds. All of his hard work paid off when he received the silver medal in the 400m at the 2014 CWG. After showing such good form in the 400m event, the speedster surprised South Africa and the world by running a quick 20.19 second 200m at the USSA meeting! So, what can’t Wayde do? With a 10.45 sec 100m, I am pretty sure he will give a few 100m specialists a run for their money.

The 2015 season started off with a blast when South African sprinters clocked very fast 100m and 200m times. Also amongst the media’s top stories were the world class jumpers hailing from South Africa. In retrospect, Wayde remained out of the spotlight. During the 2015 SA Senior Championships, he stunned the crowd by making a 44.91 sec 400m race look easy. After that he crawled back in his box by clocking average 46 second 400m’s during the Varsity Sport Athletics competitions and local meets.

South African 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, has been the talk of the town these past few weeks. The 22 year old Freestate star shocked the world when he went on to better the African 300m record by running a bolt-fast 31.63 seconds. Just two weeks later, lightning stroke again when he bettered his own 400m national record by clocking 44.24 seconds. And not long after that Van Niekerk came to take down Kirani James when he ran a 43.96. Van Niekerk then took it upon himself to smash the SA 200m record set by Jobodwana earlier this year running 19.94.

I bet the big question is: can Van Niekerk win the World Championships running against the likes of Kirani James, Lashawn Merrit and Isaac Makwala? Well, if we look at personal best times, we will see that James and Merrits’ 43.74 sec personal bests and Makwala’s 43.72 beats Van Niekerk’s 43.96 sec. However, in the 200m, Wayde’s time of 19.94 is first.

Although Wayde is 3rd on the World Rankings this year for his 400m, he has beaten Makwala and James in their head to head encounters and has also been unbeaten this year. And in that we say Wayde can come back with a gold medal from the World Championships in the 400m. And maybe even 3 medals, considering the 200m and relay as well.

Written by Reginald Hufkie and Adriaan Aldridge

Photo credit – Trevlyn Palframan