WAYDE VAN NIEKERK
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
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