WAYDE VAN NIEKERK

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za

Wayde van Niekerk’s 30.81s world record in the lit­tle-run 300m in Os­trava, Czech Repub­lic, this week means he is now the only sprinter in his­tory to also have run a sub10 100m (9.94s), sub-20 200m (19.84s) and sub-44 400m (43.03s). For­mer South African sprints coach Marc Labuschagne – an un­ex­citable sort who bat­tles to con­tain his en­thu­si­asm when he talks about “ar­guably the best sports­man to come out of South Africa” – ex­plains why he is such a good ath­lete. What makes Wayde such a good sprinter? It’s his me­chan­ics. He’s a very fluid ath­lete and there’s very lit­tle wastage when it comes to his en­ergy. When they tire, a lot of ath­letes start twist­ing or lean­ing back, but, be­cause he’s slight and doesn’t carry a lot of weight, he can main­tain his form longer than his com­peti­tors. His train­ing also has to be a ma­jor in­flu­ence in how he does that. If his coach hadn’t pre­pared him well, he prob­a­bly wouldn’t be able to do it. Why has he got such an in­cred­i­ble sprint­ing range? We mustn’t for­get that Wayde started as a 100m and 200m sprinter when he was at Grey Col­lege. When he con­verted to a long sprinter, he still loved do­ing the short sprints and has al­ways had that speed. It’s not a case of him go­ing from 400m to the 100m, it’s more him go­ing from the short sprints to the 400m. Many peo­ple have made the tran­si­tion, but haven’t been as suc­cess­ful. Wayde is so tal­ented he’s been able to do some­thing ridicu­lous like eclips­ing Michael John­son’s 400m world record.

The 300m is some­times used as a trial to check what shape an ath­lete is in. What does Wayde’s time in Os­trava tell us about his shape?

It tells me two things. The first is that if he was run­ning one of the 200m or 400m at the world champs, the world record would fall. The se­cond is that, con­sid­er­ing he is run­ning both, he’s got im­mense speed en­durance – he’s got enough speed to take it out in the 400m and not get caught. In the 200m, he’s got the speed en­durance and, once he comes through the bend with the oth­ers, he can keep go­ing. It gives him

PHOTO: REUTERS / DAVID W CERNY

VIC­TOR Wayde van Niekerk poses in front of the clock af­ter set­ting a new world record in the 300m race at the Os­trava Golden Spike event this week

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