2017 Lausanne Athletissima Diaries: How fast can Wayde Van Niekerk go?


Here's the teaser for Athletissima, and it is fun! The men's 400 meters could be the highlight of the meet on July 6, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The 400 meters will feature some of the finest 400 meter runners in the world, including LaShawn Merritt, 2008 Olympic champion, and Wayde Van Niekerk, 2016 World Champion and world record holder.

Here's the video, and after you watch it, read my deep thoughts on Wayde and how fast this man can go!

VanNiekerk_WaydePort1-IAAFgala16.jpgWayde Van Niekerk, photo by PhotoRun.net

Take a good look at Wayde Van Niekerk. This guy looks mild mannered enough, doesn't he? Now, realize, that over 100 meters (9.91), 200 meters (19.84), 300 meters (30.81) and 400 meters (43.03), no one is faster over the combined distances.

I have interviewed Wayde several times, and am always struck by his warmness and focus. Wayde likes to run fast, and likes to let his feet do his talking. But, as a major sports star, and with a sponsor like adidas, he knows that part of the game is to talk nicely with media types like myself.

His 400 meter run in Rio was paradigm changing. He had run fast before, but, in the same race, we had the 2008 Olympic champion, the 2012 Olympic champion, the World Champions in 2009, 2013 (LaShawn Merritt), 2011 (Kirani James) and 2015 (Wayde Van Niekerk).

VanNiekerk_WaydeWR1-Rio16.jpgThe battle for Rio, 400 meters, photo by PhotoRun.net

Last summer, during the Rio Olympics, I participated in the Mo & Larry show, a mobile video series featuring 1997 and 1999 World Champion Maurice Greene. A keen observer of the human condition and spirit, Maurice took a deep pause and said the following about Wayde Van Niekerk, " how do you race against a guy who will die to win?"

Wayde Van Niekerk has taken himself to sickness, after his run in Beijing. In Rio, he was worn out, but conscious. His run was masterful, as Kirani James, LaShawn Merritt and Wayde Van NIekerk hit 300 meters, very close, correct that, very, very close.

It was in that last 100 meters, much like 1996 and 2000 Olympic champion Michael Johnson, that Wayde Van Niekerk showed his metal. Van Niekerk has this high knee lift, and great arm motion as he ran away from the past two Olympic champions. It was, as if, Wayde Van Niekerk was taking us into another world (as the Joe Jackson song so nicely puts it).

With personal bests over 100 meters, 200 meters and 300 meters this year, plus a long and fast 200 meter straight race in Boston last month, Wayde Van Niekerk looks ready to rewrite the 400 meter record books.

With Lausanne's pleasing conditions, including its cool weather, just how fast can Wayde Van Niekerk go on 6 July?

This writer thinks that Wayde Van Niekerk will become the first man under 43 seconds this season, but for the sixth of July, a mid or low 43 seconds for the 400 meters makes total sense at this time of the year!

VanNiekerk_WaydeWR4303b-RioOlyG16.jpgWayde Van Niekerk, this man will break this record, and soon. photo by PhotoRun.net

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required