Athletics

Wayde Van Niekerk Breaks Down During Remarkable BBC Interview

Wayde Van Niekerk Breaks Down During Remarkable BBC Interview

After taking 200m silver at the World Championships in London on Thursday night, Wayde van Niekerk broke down during an interview with the BBC's Phil Jones.

The South African had been aiming to do the 200m and 400m double in London. On Tuesday night, van Niekerk won gold in the 400m. He could not follow that up by topping the podium in the shorter event. Turkey's Azerbaijani-born Ramil Guliyev - who finished last in the Olympic final in Rio - shocked the field to win the race in a slow 20.09.

Van Niekerk, after being persuaded to speak by Jones, said he had felt disrespected following the 400m final.

I really feel I worked hard for tonight and I gave it my all. I think I've proven over and over again that I deserve what I've achieved. It was a tough week for myself.

After 400m, there was quite a lot of people that felt I didn’t deserve it. I'm glad that I could come out today and put up a good fight. I really believe that this is the beginning of so much more that I can achieve.

I work just as hard as every other competitor I compete against. I show everyone else respect. I think I didn’t get the respect I deserve after the 400m.

Speaking at a press conference later last night, van Niekerk confirmed that feeling of disrespect had emanated from the words of rival Isaac Makwala. The Botswana sprinter has been in the spotlight this week after being refused access to the London Stadium for his 400m semi-final due to being quarantined due to illness. Makwala later claimed this was part of an IAAF conspiracy to increase van Niekerk's chances of winning 400m gold.

Van Niekerk has been viewed by many as being the natural successor to Usain Bolt as the sport's poster boy.

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To be honest with you it really did upset me a bit. The amount of respect I have shown each and every competitor, including Makwala, and for him to come out and mention my name amongst something fishy with the IAAF, knowing how hard I have been working…

I have been putting out great performances for two years now and I definitely deserve way more respect from my competitors. I will be taking the future differently, and focusing on myself. I wouldn’t say it affected me, but I expected more from someone I have been competing against for years now. There has been continued respect, and for him to come out with that was a bit disappointing.

You can watch Wayde van Niekerk's emotional interview with the BBC below.

Watch: Incredible Misfortune Creates Unbelievable 400m Final Finish At World Championships

PJ Browne
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