Michael Johnson In Awe Of Wayde Van Niekerk For Breaking His World Record
Michael Johnson watched in awe on Sunday as South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk broke the American’s 17-year-old world record in the men’s 400-meter race at the Rio Games.Advertisement
Van Niekerk set a time of 43.03 in the 400-meter final, shattering the previous record of 43.18 set by Johnson during the 1999 World Championships in Seville.
“I believed I could get the world record. I’ve dreamed of this medal since forever. I am blessed,” Van Niekerk said after his historic feat in Rio.
The result is not a shock to those who follow athletics. Last year, Van Niekerk nearly beat Johnson’s record during the Beijing World Championships when he finished just 0.03 seconds outside of the world record.
Van Niekerk trained by grandma
Amazingly, Van Niekerk was trained by Ans Botha, the sprinter’s 74-year-old grandmother. “If I see something that will work on my athletes, I will try it and implement it. That’s how I always try to bring something new in our training.
“They say you’re never too old to learn, especially in athletics,” Botha told a South African newspaper before the Rio games.
Since training with his grandmother, the 24-year-old South African wiped off his previous quickest time during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, which was nearly four seconds slower than Sunday’s lap.
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Michael Johnson left speechless
Johnson was the on-air commentator for BBC when Van Niekerk broke the world record. “Oh my God. From lane 8. World record. He took it out so quick, and I’ve never seen from 200 to 400 anything like that. What we will want to see is what his splits were.
“He could have very well have run negative splits, meaning that he ran faster in that second 200 than he ran in the first 200, which would make this even more amazing.
“Well done to the youngster,” Johnson was quoted as saying.
Van Niekerk also became the first sprinter in history to win the gold medal despite starting the men’s 400 m from lane eight. That’s amazing.
Michael Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals during his illustrious career, tweeted the following after the race: