Van Zyl picks Van Niekerk


June 11, 2016
Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer South African Wayde van Niekerk training at the Usain Bolt Track at UWI Mona.

ONE of the feature events on today's JN Racers Grand Prix programme will be a special 300 metres race where last year's World Championships 400 metres gold medal winner, Wayde Van Niekerk, of South Africa, will clash with silver medallist LaShawn Merritt of the United States.

Both have been in great early form this season in the one lap event. The South African has a 2016 best of 44.11 seconds with the American's fastest this year being 44.22. Only Grenada's Kirani James, with 44.08, has gone faster this year.

Yesterday, Van Niekerk's South African manager and agent, Peet van Zyl, picked his charge to win the 300m event.

good speed

"This is a stepping stone towards Rio as we are trying to replicate what we did last year, where we had him in a few 200 and 300 metres. We do not want to race him in many 400m this early and the 300m will be good speed endurance for him at this stage of his preparation," said Van Zyl.

Van Niekerk has competed in only two 400m so far this season and his manager thinks this is okay for his athlete.

"For now this is enough. We will do at least two more before the Olympics, as at this stage he is in much better shape than last year. He has two low 44s so far and that is much better than at this time last year," he said.

Van Zyl is looking forward to today's 300m clash with Merritt.

"It is going to be a very interesting race because it is not too often that two of the supreme 400m athletes face each other at this time, and Merritt's time in the 200m (19.78) shows that his speed is there and it is going to be a very interesting race, but I think Van Niekerk will win," said a confident Van Zyl.

- R.G.

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