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He has some speed! - Bolt, van Niekerk thrilled after training together

Published:Tuesday | June 7, 2016 | 6:00 AMAndre Lowe
Usain Bolt (left) and South African Wayde van Niekerk match strides during a training session yesterday at the Usain Bolt/University of the West Indies track under the watchful eyes of coach Glen Mills (background).
Racers Track Club head coach Glen Mills (left) shares a conversation with Anna 'Tannie Ans' Botha, coach of South African 400m World Champion Wayde van Niekerk ahead of a training session at Usain Bolt/University of the West Indies track yesterday
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"He has some speed. I must say, he does have some speed."

That was the how the world's fastest man Usain Bolt assessed South African World Championships 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, minutes after the two shared a training session for the first time.

Van Niekerk and a number of other South African athletes including break - out sprinter Akani Simbine, arrived early in the island on Saturday ahead of this weekend's Jamaica National Racers Grand Prix as an invitation to work out with Bolt and the high-profile cast at the Racers Track Club under the guidance of coach Glen Mills.

The South African, who thrilled at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year with a 43.48-second win in the 400m, says he is looking to learn as much as possible from his time here as he prepares to step up his campaign on Saturday with a 300m run.

 

GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

 

It seems he has left a positive first impression on the big Jamaican. Hardly a surprise considering that van Niekerk is the only athlete to have gone sub-10 seconds (9.98) in the 100m, sub-20 seconds (19.94) in the 200m, and sub-44 seconds (43.48) in the 400m.

"It was good. He is a cool person it's the first time I'm actually communicating with him like this and having

dialogue and stuff, but he is a really cool person and we were just chilling and having a chat and its good," said Bolt of his first session with the South African.

Van Niekerk was also thrilled to be given the chance to work alongside the group and is hoping to make the most of the opportunity.

"I love meeting personalities and so on, and what better personality than a Jamaican personality!" van Niekerk told The Gleaner during an earlier chat.

"I sat so much with coach Mills in the dining rooms at the Diamond Leagues and so on and we really enjoy his company and now to be around someone like Usain Bolt, who is an idol in the sport, and Yohan Blake and Warren Weir and all those top athletes - just being around them and learning from them, I'm just very excited to learn and pick up steps on how I can improve as an athlete," van Niekerk said.

 

QUITE EXCITED

 

"I am quite excited about it and, hopefully, it won't be the last time. I like saying that to be the best, you have to be among the best and learn from the best, so who better than the world record holder and Blake and so on. So I'm looking forward to it and I will try and apply what they do in my own personal life and, hopefully, I can be up there with them in the near future," said van Niekerk.

His coach Anna 'Tannie Ans' Botha, who is also in the island, was also happy to be working out with the Jamaicans

"It's a bit overwhelming just to have the privilege to work with coach Mills, to talk to him and experience all the nice people of Jamaica. That's really special," said Botha.

"I'm very pleased when you have someone of his stature and I think he's a remarkable young man based on the range he has been doing: sub-20, sub-10 and sub-44; he's unique and it's really good to have him here with us," added Mills yesterday.

Van Niekerk is coming off a 44.19-second win at the Rome Diamond League and has a season best of 44.11 seconds.

He ran a personal best 31.63 seconds in his last 300m race, ran at the Birmingham Grand Prix last June.