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Van Niekerk seeking Bolt 200m showdown

Following his Olympics triumph, South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk said that his blistering 400m world record had given clean athletes a boost © AFP/File / ERIC FEFERBERG

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jan 27 – South African Wayde van Niekerk, the world 400m record holder and Olympic champion, is seeking a World Championships scheduling change so he can race Usain Bolt in London, his manager said on Friday.

“We will try to make it happen. That’s the plan. The main goal is to win the 400m title but he would also like to run the 200m. We’ll see how he goes through the season and if he’s ready for it,” Peet van Zyl, Van Niekerk’s manager, told AFP by phone.

The World Championships will take place in London in August.

“We will have also to see if the schedule of the World Championships allow it,” he added.

Currently the 400m final will start just hours after the 200m heats, with both races scheduled for late evening on August 8.

If one of the races was moved it would give Van Niekerk a realistic chance to compete in both — likely facing Bolt in the 200m.

“I’m definitely doing the 200m and 400m, I’ve set it in my heart already and I’ve decided that I’m doing the ‘two’ and ‘four’,” Van Niekerk told South Africa’s EyeWitness News website at an event in Stellenbosch, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Cape Town.

“It doesn’t matter how the programme turns out, I’m going to do that challenge and see what happens.”

Bolt had tipped Van Niekerk to break Michael Johnson’s 400m record which had stood unbroken for 17 years.

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“A few months prior to the Olympics we spoke about it and he told me I can (break the record). Obviously it did help me believe in myself… Yeah, I’m grateful for the belief that he had in me,” Van Niekerk told AFP previously.

Following his Olympics triumph, Van Niekerk said that his blistering 400m world record had given clean athletes a boost.

Bolt lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals Wednesday when the International Olympic Committee stripped Jamaica of their 4x100m relay win at the 2008 Beijing Games after a team-mate was caught doping.

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