MONACO — As Usain Bolt races towards the top of a great profession, Wayde van Niekerk is thought of to be monitor and area’s subsequent massive star.
“That’s a massive, massive responsibility,” Van Niekerk stated on Thursday. He set a shocking 400-meter world file in 43.03 seconds whereas successful the Olympic title final 12 months.
He spoke in Monaco forward of Herculis assembly on Friday within the Diamond League sequence the place he will likely be a major attraction with Bolt, who will run certainly one of his final aggressive 100 races.
“I find it extremely difficult to even come close to what Usain has represented in his charismatic way,” Van Niekerk stated.
The softly spoken South African has talked with Bolt “quite a few times” about revealing extra of his character.
“Usain has set the bar quite high both with his personality and his performances,” Van Niekerk stated, including that he is “slowly but surely” popping out of his shell. “It’s powerful for us to catch up on the subject of persona as a result of he (Bolt) naturally has it.
“At the top of the day you actually simply have to be you. It is the performances that make me a great athlete.”
There was greatness on the Rio de Janeiro monitor final August when Van Niekerk eclipsed Michael Johnson’s world mark of 43.18 some thought was unbeatable.
Now a daily query is the place and when the primary sub-43 time will likely be run — probably on the world championships in London in two weeks.
“I can undoubtedly consider a 42,” Van Niekerk acknowledged. “It’s certain to occur. I simply have to have the fitting race and the fitting circumstances and the fitting excellent second.”
Van Niekerk appears in high form. He ran a world-leading 43.62 this month at Lausanne, Switzerland, and eased up close to the top of his solely 400 thus far within the European summer season season.
He additionally took one other Johnson mark when setting a world-best of 30.81 within the seldom-raced 300 final month within the Czech Republic. His finest 200 time of 19.84, in Jamaica final month, is second on this planet this 12 months.
For good measure, Van Niekerk additionally has a 9.94 within the 100 that is sooner than any Bolt aggressive time this season.
“I doubt it is the top of the place I may be,” Van Niekerk stated of his instances within the shorter sprints.
Still, he has solely respect for eight-time Olympic champion Bolt, whose farewell season will go away an enormous hole the game will wrestle to fill.
“We all thought, ‘Is this actually potential?'” Van Niekerk said of growing up watching the Jamaican great set world records and winning Olympic and world titles. “He has additionally impressed us a lot.”