Van Niekerk switches to US base for Olympic boost

·1-min read
Bound for the US: South African Olympic 400m gold medallist and world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk

South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk, the 400m world record holder and Olympic champion, said Friday he is decamping to the United States in an effort to boost his chances of a gold medal repeat at the Tokyo Games.

The 28-year-old will work at top US coach Lance Brauman's base at Claremont in Florida and train alongside world 200m champion Noah Lyles and Olympic 400m gold medallist Shaunae Miller.

Van Niekirk, who took Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 with a world record time of 43.03sec, will be leaving behind his longtime training base at Bloemfontein.

"I have spent most of my career under the guidance of 'Tannie' Ans Botha at my base in Bloemfontein and I can't express the gratitude for everything she has done to help me get to this point in my career," the South African said in a statement.

"I am hoping to break my world record and in order to do that I need to ensure that I am training alongside the world's best sprinters.

"So I feel a temporary move to the United States will be in my best interests in the immediate future."

Van Niekerk, who suffered a serious knee injury at the end of 2017, said he would assess his long-term plans after this summer's Olympics.