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Bolt Considers van Nierkerk the More Deserving of the Laureus ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ Award

When Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m final run at the 2016, Rio Olympics, it dropped jaws.

But to the disappointment of many fans and admirers – majority of them South Africans who took to social media – the South African who obliterated Micheal Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m world record, did not win this year’s nomination category at the Laureus World Sports Awards on Tuesday night.

One of his popular fans and winner of the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award, Usain Bolt deeply shares the same view that van Niekerk should have won the Breakthrough award the latter lost to Formula One champion, Nico Rosberg.

“If I’m honest, I would have definitely given it to him (Van Niekerk),” Bolt told Sport24.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I never thought I would see Michael Johnson’s record broken. I’ve seen many athletes try and they’ve come way short.[/perfectpullquote]

“I remember the first time I saw him (Van Niekerk) run and afterwards and my coach (Glen Mills) sat me down and said, ‘There are only two people who can break this 400m world record’.

“I said, ‘Who is that?’ and he said, ‘One is you, and one is Wayde van Niekerk’.

“He said it to me earlier when we had the discussion about the 400m. He said, ‘You have to have the speed. If you don’t have speed, you can’t break Michael Johnson’s world record’.

“Wayde has the speed and the strength and determination.”

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Just by training with him earlier in the year you can tell that he really works hard. For me it was just brilliant to have seen him break the world record and I was really happy for him,”[/perfectpullquote]

said Bolt.

Van Niekerk briefly trained with Bolt in the build-up to the Rio Olympic games. With Bolt soon retiring from the sport on an incredible high, the South African is a likely contender for the 200m which the Jamaican comfortably defended, adding to his (van Niekerk) now famous 400m category.

“I know that he’s going to run a good 200m because he’s very strong and I can tell that he’s fast by the 100m that he’s run,” Bolt added.



Featured photo: Wayde van Niekerk and Bolt share a moment at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (AP/GETTY IMAGES)

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