By David McDaid
BBC Olympic sports actions reporter
Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk desires to position an “untouchable” 400m world legend as his legacy.
Athletics anecdote Michael Johnson held the legend for 17 years earlier than Van Niekerk beat it within the Rio 2016 final.
From the highs of becoming Olympic and world champion in 2017, the South African has uncared for many of the previous three seasons with harm – but now desires to speed below forty three seconds.
“I appreciate this deep desire to be out of attain,” the 28-one year-feeble advised BBC Sport.
“And after popping out of a period of severely struggling, it makes me more hungry.”
Thursday marks a one year to head to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
And in a huge-ranging interview with Johnson for the Olympic Secrets and tactics series on BBC iPlayer, Van Niekerk additionally revealed:
- His skills for the 400m occasion helped give him self belief to beat the college bullies;
- He was in tears earlier than his Rio Olympic triumph as he feared his body would ruin down;
- Usain Crawl had predicted to him that he would ruin the 400m world legend in Rio.
At the Rio Games, Van Niekerk ran forty three.03 on his capacity to winning 400m Olympic gold, surpassing American Johnson’s mark of forty three.18, position at the World Championships in 1999.
Nonetheless, in October 2017, weeks after conserving his world title in London, Van Niekerk ruptured knee ligaments in a huge name contact rugby match in his fatherland.
Van Niekerk has permitted it was “the worst choice to build” after 4 years of success on the music.
“I knew programs to play rugby but I hadn’t touched a ball for eight years,” he acknowledged. “My body was conditioned for running straight – not zig-zags.
“That was the final negate I was pondering of but in a while you take a seat lend a hand and realise that the choice was clearly foolish.”
He admitted to struggling alongside with his mental health after the harm.
“The critical two weeks were very complicated and showed indicators of me hiking into a dark reveal,” he acknowledged.
“So I had to leap lend a hand because I’m able to’t be place of dwelling in this dark reveal. I had to open from scratch; I had to reveal myself from the beginning that I need to steal duty for the choice I’ve made.”
Having had to take a seat down out 2018 and most of 2019, Van Niekerk’s 2020 has additionally been on lend a hand attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now he is enthusiastic to renew racing in reveal to work in direction of turning into the first man to interrupt the forty three-second barrier for 400m.
“It be positively a priority for me, because why am I tranquil right here if I’m not seeking growth?” acknowledged Van Niekerk.
“Grunt wants to be improving my times internal the forty two-second range. That’s where my suggestions is at; that is where my heart is at.
“Seeing you [Johnson] position a typical of surroundings a legend of 17 years – I are enthusiastic to double that.
“That’s just appropriate the competitor in me and for me to resolve for anything decrease than that would mean I’m doing an injustice to myself and the team working for me.”