Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Impressed by van Niekerk

Published:Friday | December 23, 2016 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Bert Cameron of the Cameron Blazers Track Club.
Usain Bolt (left) training with South African Wayde van Niekerk at the UWI Bowl earlier this year.
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As can be expected, Bert Cameron watched the Olympic men's 400 metre final and the performance of South African Wayde van Niekerk with great interest. Even now, four months later, Cameron, the first World Champion in the one-lap event is still impressed with the world record performance by van Niekerk. Interestingly, the Jamaican thinks the new Olympic champion may feel that he has nothing left to accomplish in the 400m.

Speaking just before a Cameron Blazers training session in Kingston earlier this week, the 57-year-old Cameron said that it seemed that the 2015 World champion had started too quickly.

"At one point, I said van Niekerk was probably going too fast because I saw the rest of the guys looking like they were comfortable and in control.

"When he reached about 280m, there I said he could not maintain that," Cameron recalled, "but when I saw him come off the turn and I saw the way he was composed ... and I saw him move, I said 'this is a world record'."

 

LIGHTNING PERFORMANCE

 

He was right as the 24-year-old ace clicked to a winning time of 43.30 seconds. That's 0.15 seconds off the old mark set by Michael Johnson in 1999.

The 1983 World and 1982 Commonwealth champion gushed: "I've never seen anything like this in my entire lifetime, not even when people are running 4x4s, so to me, this is a lightning performance." He placed it in perspective, saying, "I've seen Bolt and now I've seen van Niekerk."

Reminded that the new star passed the 200 metres mark in 20.7 seconds and that his own personal best for the half lap sprint is 20.74, the 1984 and 1988 Olympic finalist chuckled. Then he asked admiringly, "How can a man do something like that and he's only 24?"

In a reference to van Niekerk's expressions of interest in shorter sprint events, Cameron said: "I just believe that there's nothing else that he wants to accomplish in the 400m.

"I believe that for a man to run 43.03," Cameron marvelled,. "I think he's just ready to run a 200m now. I just believe that."