'I'm not in shape to win the 200 metres' - Bolt admits he would have struggled in pet event

August 10, 2017
Bolt
Wayde van Niekerk (right) of South Africa winning the men's 400 metres in 43.62 seconds at the Lausanne Diamond League meet in Switzerland earlier this month.
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LONDON (AP):

Next for Wayde van Niekerk comes the "easy" part: Trying to win the 200 metres.

After that, something more challenging: Becoming the face of track and field now that Usain Bolt is moving on.

It's a daunting proposition. But Van Niekerk started off on the right foot by winning the 400 at the world championships. Today, the South African standout goes for gold in the 200 Bolt's signature race. Only, Bolt is sitting this one out, ending his string of four straight titles in the event.

Now that he's almost retired, Bolt's future endeavours will involve plenty of travel and very little training.

"I'm excited to just live normally," said Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100 and 200.

After his bronze-medal finish in the 100, the Jamaican great said he would've struggled at 200 metres, as well.

"I'm not in shape to win the 200 metres," Bolt said. "When you're old, it's hard getting back from injuries. It's time for me to pack it up."

 

Massive responsibility

 

Pressure filling Bolt's role? Van Niekerk insisted that's not his mission.

"I've got a massive responsibility to continue performing, continue growing and continue winning medals," said Van Niekerk, who qualified on time after finishing third in his semi-final heat on a rainy Wednesday. "That's what's important right now continue the great legacy that the greats ... have left behind. To continue to promote track and field."

Van Niekerk certainly has impressive credentials. His top time and personal best in the 100 this year (9.94) would've tied for second at worlds had he run in London, and his 200 is good enough to win big events. He's already the world-record holder in the 400.

That he's even trying the 200-400 double is impressive. Bolt eventually chose the 100 over the 400 as his second race because the 400 is just that demanding.

No arguments from Van Niekerk.

"Obviously, I know the pain that comes with (the 400) once I cross finish line," Van Niekerk said. "Very excited for the 200 my body just needs to be ready and I'll give it my best shot."

Soon, the stage will belong to Van Niekerk & Co.

"Each and every one of us in our sport is growing every competition," Van Niekerk said. "I'd like to see more than just myself come through."

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