South Africa’s Olympic and world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk recently announced that he will be moving to the U.S. to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Games. The 400m world record holder will join reigning 200m world champion Noah Lyles and fellow Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo in Clermont, Fla., to train under sprinting coach Lance Brauman.
Hi Dreamers! Pls see statement below:
I've spent most of my career under the guidance of the amazing ‘Tannie' Ans at my home base in Bloem and I can't express the gratitude I have for everything she has done to help me get to this point in my career🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/RII0LTJm0Q
— Wayde van Niekerk (@WaydeDreamer) February 19, 2021
Making a change
Van Niekerk’s move to the U.S. marks the end of a nine-year partnership with “Tannie” Ans Botha. Botha, now 79, began coaching van Niekerk in 2012 when he was in university in South Africa.
“I’ve spent most of my career under the guidance of Tannie Ans,” van Niekerk said in a statement announcing his coaching change. “I can’t express the gratitude I have for everything she has done to help me get to this point in my career.”
He continued, saying, “As much as I have enjoyed my experience with Tannie Ans and her group, I am hoping to break my world record.” Van Niekerk ran his world record at the Rio Olympics in 2016, crossing the line in 43.03 seconds to win the gold. He said he believes his best chance at breaking his world record will be by training alongside Lyles and other top sprinters ahead of the Tokyo Games.
This is not the first time van Niekerk has made such a move. In 2016, he trained with Usain Bolt in Jamaica in his build to the Rio Olympics. He is now looking for a similar spark to the one he found back then ahead of his world record in the 400m final.
A legendary comeback
Van Niekerk came so close to breaking 43 seconds in Rio, and he has said that is his goal moving forward. He wants to break his world record, but 43.01 or 43.02 won’t satisfy him. This would be an incredible result in normal circumstances, but van Niekerk is coming off an injury (he tore his ACL in 2017) that kept him out of competition for more than two years, which will make running sub-43 even more remarkable.
He made his comeback last February and competed six times throughout 2020, winning each of his races, and he looks to be ready to continue his streak this season as he works toward Tokyo.