Van Niekerk to train with Bolt to boost Rio hopes

Fri May 20, 2016 4:59am EDT
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By Nick Said

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South African 400 meters world champion Wayde van Niekerk will train with sprint king Usain Bolt in Jamaica next month in a bid to shave vital fractions of a second off his time in a chase for Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.

Van Niekerk, the only man in history to run under 10 seconds in the 100 meters, sub-20 in the 200 meters and below 44 in the 400 meters, is the second fastest sprinter over his specialist distance this year behind Kirani James from Grenada.

Van Niekerk hopes training with Bolt, world champion in the 100 and 200 meters, and another Jamaican sprint champion, Yohan Blake, will boost his gold medal prospects in Rio.

"I'm excited to go out there and train with them, it's the world best Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir," Van Niekerk told Reuters. "I feel I can learn a lot from them and can improve myself as an athlete.

"Going out there and competing against these guys, and training with them, will give me a boost as an athlete to get better."

Van Niekerk received the invitation from sprint coach Glen Mills, who played a leading role in the development of Bolt into the fastest man alive.

"I have got quite close with coach Mills in the last few months after we spent a lot of time together at lunch and supper tables (at events) and he eventually threw the idea out there and said, 'wouldn't you like to come out and train in Jamaica'. Obviously I jumped at the chance."

Before that, Van Niekerk will compete at the Diamond League event in Rome and later head to Boston. He will also have a major tune-up for the Olympics at the African Athletics Championships to be staged in Durban from June 22.   Continued...

Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa presents his gold medal as he poses on the podium after the men's 400 metres final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, August 27, 2015.   REUTERS/Damir Sagolj