Wayde Van Niekerk Given World Championship Double Opportunity
Wayde van Niekerk will have an opportunity to attempt a rare World Championship double, after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared the way for him to run the 200m and 400m events at the IAAF World Championships, to be held in London between 4-13 August 2017.
The development follows a special request made by Athletics South Africa (ASA), after Van Niekerk showed interest in attempting the rare double.
“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,” the international body said in a statement.
There were three changes made to the programme for the biennial spectacle, with men’s and women’s races moved around to accommodate the aforementioned opportunity.
Reacting to the change in favour of South Africa’s top male athlete, Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana was excited at the prospect of seeing Van Niekerk race in both events later this year.
“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,” said Skhosana, according to AthleticsSA.
“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,” he concluded.
World Championship double chance for Van Niekerk
Van Niekerk will aim to become the first man in 22 years to achieve the sprint double.
Former 200m and 400m world record holder Michael Johnson of the United States is the only man to have achieved the feat, after winning both gold medals in Gothenburg in 1995.
Van Niekerk rose to fame at last year’s Olympic games in Rio when he set a new world record of 43.03 seconds to win 400m gold.
He took 0.15 off the 17-year-old global best previously held by American great Johnson, further establishing his place among the fastest men in the world.
The Team South Africa Olympic flag bearer became the first man to win Olympic gold from lane 8, beating Kirani James of Grenada and American LaShawn Merritt.