Wayde van Niekerk retained his 400m world crown in London on Tuesday night and then said he believed he could add the 200m title to bag a rare world championship double.
“It’s easier said than done‚” Van Niekerk said of his prospects of joining American legend Michael Johnson as the only people to have landed the 400m and 200m at the global showpiece.
“This competition is very unpredictable‚ but I know I’ve got the abilities‚” said Van Niekerk‚ who goes up against American champion Ameer Webb and Turkish flyer Ramil Guliyev in the third semifinal on Wednesday night.
Teammate Akani Simbine is in the first semifinal‚ with the final set for Thursday.
“My body still feels very good. The recovery process after tonight was a bit difficult‚ it took me a while to recover … recovery tonight is very‚ very important for tomorrow’s semifinal because it’s going to go straight from endurance to speed tomorrow.”
Van Niekerk — who slowed dramatically late in the 400m final to save energy for the 200m — gushed about the shorter race at the post-final press conference on Tuesday night.
“Now that the 400 is gone‚ I love the 200‚ I love it so much‚” said Van Niekerk‚ who ran the 200m heats on Monday night.
“I got over the finish line with a smile. I could go through the mixed zone interacting with the media … and I even had a nice jog back to the warm-up area‚ so I’m very excited.
“I just hope I can get some good rest tonight and the body still feels good tomorrow‚” he said.
“The 400m was comfortable‚ but obviously we all know the pain that comes with it once we cross the finish line.
“I’m very excited for the 200m. The body just needs to be ready and I’ll give it my best shot.”
Van Niekerk said the cold conditions had affected his 400m at the London stadium‚ where he won in 43.98sec‚ comfortably ahead of Steve Gardiner of Bahamas (44.41) and Abdalelah Haroun of Qatar (44.48).
“It was quite freezing‚” he said. “I struggled to get myself warmed up and ready.
“I think for about 200m I was doubting my momentum and I think the last 150m I tried putting in an extra gear but I just couldn’t catch my stride.
“[Over] the last few metres I … looked up to the screen and I noticed how far ahead I was.
“Immediately I thought of my health and realising I still have two more rounds to run and I thought if the times aren’t going to come there’s no use for me to push it all the way to my limits.”