Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Van Niekerk's manager confident of win

Published:Saturday | June 11, 2016 | 6:00 AM
South African Wayde van Niekerk training at the Usain Bolt Track at UWI Mona.

ONE of the feature events on today's Jamaica National Racers Grand Prix programme will be a special 300m race, which pits last year's World Championships 400m gold and silver medal winners Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and the United States' LaShawn Merritt against each other.

Van Niekerk's manager and agent, Peet Van Zyl ,explained the decision to compete in a 300m event at this stage of the season as opposed to the 400m.

"This is all part of his 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, and we do not want to race him in many 400 metres this early. The 300m will be a good speed-endurance test for him at this stage of his preparation," said Van Zyl.

 

Better than last year

 

Van Niekerk has only competed in two 400m races so far this season, but Van Zyl is certain this is the right plan for his athlete.

"For now, this is enough as we will do at least two more before the Olympics. At this stage he is in much better shape than last year as he has two low 44 seconds times so far - better than he was this time last year," said Van Zyl, who added that he was looking forward to today's clash against Merritt.

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

Both athletes are expected to excite, with the pair being in great early season form in the one-lap event, with the South African having a season best 44.11 seconds with the American's best being 44.22 seconds. Only Grenada's Kirani James, with 44.08 seconds has gone faster than these two.

Isaac Makwala of Botswana, known around the circuit for his fast starts in the 400m, will add to the spectacle.

- R.G.