Van Niekerk says 400m remains top priority for London 2017

Omnisport
The Olympic champion and world record holder over 400 metres will prioritise the one-lap event, despite his love of the 100 and 200m.

Van Niekerk says 400m remains top priority for London 2017

The Olympic champion and world record holder over 400 metres will prioritise the one-lap event, despite his love of the 100 and 200m.

Wayde van Niekerk is eager to race over 100 and 200 metres in major championships, but says his primary focus will remain on the 400m ahead of next year's World Championships in London.

Van Niekerk stunned the world at the Rio Olympics in August, not only claiming victory in the men's 400m final but also breaking the world record that had belonged to Michael Johnson for 17 years.

A sensational time of 43.03seconds immediately elevated the South African to stardom, but he remains keen to compete over shorter distances.

Prior to his Olympic triumph, Van Niekerk had become the first athlete to run under 10 seconds for the 100m, 20 seconds for the 200m and 44 seconds for 400m.

"It's no secret that I really love the 100 and 200 metres, but the 400 metres obviously brought me this far," he said after picking up the Best Male Athlete of Rio 2016 award at the Association of National Olympic Committees general assembly.

"I'm going to take it day by day, it all depends on where my times would lead me, but obviously the 400 metres is going to have to be the first priority because of what I've achieved.

"At the same time, I'd love to improve my 100 and 200 and also maybe compete at major competitions in those events."

Reflecting on the reaction in South Africa to his record-breaking exploits, Van Niekerk added: "It was massive - I still sometimes get a bit overwhelmed at how people received what I've achieved - it's still something I have to pinch myself on sometimes.

"But you slowly but surely start accepting responsibility for what you've achieved and what you've done for the country - and it just gives me so much more motivation to keep on inspiring more South Africans.

"I've always had the belief and I've always thought I had the abilities to go out there and try and break the world record, but to actually achieve it and to actually execute your race as perfectly as possible to do it, you never really know [whether it can happen]. It's a very humbling feeling."

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