The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has handed men’s 400m World Record (WR) holder, Wayde Van Niekerk a chance to attempt a rare double of competing in the 200m and 400m at the World Championships in London holding on August 4th – 13th 2017.
This was considered after a special request was made by the Athletics South Africa (ASA) to the IAAF, after Van Niekerk showed an interest in attempting both the 200m and 400m at the biennial competition.
“Following requests from the athletics federations of the Bahamas and South Africa to amend the timetable to better allow for a 200m/400m doubling opportunity, (the IAAF) Council has approved changes to the timetable” a statement from ASA read.
ASA’s President, Aleck Skhosana also expressed his delight adding: “We are excited at ASA that the IAAF Council has acceded to our request to have the long standing schedule be changed to accommodate our athlete who wants to make history by doubling the 200m and 400m events.”
“It is now up to Wayde and his coach to work towards achieving their goal of winning both these events at the IAAF World Championships.”
Van Niekerk became a global athletics icon in 2015, when he surprisingly won the 400m world title in Beijing, clocking 43.48s. In July 2015, he clocked a Personal Best (PB) of 19.94s in the 200m, thereby becoming one of the few quarter-milers in history to have dipped below the 44s and 20s mark.
The 24 year old not resting on his success, opened his 2016 season on a record breaking note by winning the South African College Championships 100m title in a fast time of 9.98s. This propelled him to be the first man in history to have run a sub-10s, sub-20s and sub-44s.
At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Van Niekerk produced a ground breaking performance by winning the 400m Gold medal from Lane 8, in a WR time of 43.03s which erased Micheal Johnson’s record of 43.18s from 1999.
If the World Champion finally decides to compete in both events, he’ll be aiming to become the first man in 22 years to achieve the sprint double, after former WR holder Johnson became the first man to achieve the feat, winning both Gold medals at the 1995 edition in Gothenburg.
However, the biggest spotlight will be when he possibly lines up against the legendary Usain Bolt who will be retiring from the sport after the Championships. Can Van Niekerk stun Bolt in London, beating and possibly making him reconsider extending his retirement?