Wayde van Niekerk has embarked on a new stage of his career after linking up with a new coach and ending his nine-year partnership with Ans Botha.
Targeting his own 400m world record of 43.03, in an attempt to become the first man under 43 seconds, Van Niekerk confirmed on Friday he would be working with US-based coach Lance Brauman in the build-up to his title defence at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August.
His new training partners would include American sensation Noah Lyles, the 200m world champion.
“I am hoping to break my world record and to do that I need to ensure I am training alongside the world’s best sprinters,” Van Niekerk said.
“So I feel a temporary move to the United States will be in my best interests for the immediate future.”
While he was still based in Bloemfontein, due to travel restrictions, Van Niekerk hoped to leave for Brauman’s base in Florida as soon as he was allowed.
He was full of praise for Botha, however, after she guided him to two world titles and an Olympic gold medal.
“I can’t express the gratitude I have for everything she has done to help me get to this point in my career,” said Van Niekerk.
Though the Tokyo Games was still in some doubt due to the ongoing pandemic, Van Niekerk said he was eager to shine again on the highest stage after making a return last year from a lengthy hiatus due to a knee injury.
He was confident he would receive a boost by training with Lyles as he looked to gain further momentum on the comeback trail.
“I look forward to working with my new coach and training partners, and I hope to continue carrying the South African flag with pride at international level.”