Wayde van Niekerk sees different double in his future, or none at all

Leave a comment

Wayde van Niekerk, tired after six races in six days, doesn’t see another 200m-400m double in his future.

“The only doubles I think I would consider now is the 100m and 200m,” Van Niekerk said after taking world 400m gold on Tuesday and 200m silver on Thursday in London.

Van Niekerk was beaten by .02 in the half-lap race by Turkish surprise Ramil Guliyev, keeping the South African from becoming the second athlete to sweep the 200m and 400m at a worlds.

Now, it appears Van Niekerk will no longer bid to match Michael Johnson‘s feat from the 1995 Worlds. Though the next global meet is not until 2019, giving the 25-year-old plenty of time to change his mind.

“I’d love to do a bit of a 100m and 200m at Commonwealth [Games] next year, but obviously, I’m going to have to do some 400m as well at the Diamond Leagues and World Challenges and so on,” he said. “But, I think, we haven’t really thought that far. We were focusing on the [200m-400m] double this week. And, I think, after the season we will sit back with coach and decide what we are going to invest our time in.

“If I have to refer to the 400m, I’d love to have that as an individual event. So I’d love to improve my world record again.”

The Commonwealth Games do not include the U.S. or Turkey, where the world 100m and 200m champions reside. And with Usain Bolt retiring, none of the world 100m medalists will be there. His biggest competition could be Andre De Grasse of Canada and Isaac Makwala of Botswana.

Van Niekerk is the only man in history to run sub-44 for the 400m, sub-20 for the 200m and sub-10 for the 100m.

“I’d love to improve all three events, but I will definitely not double up again,” Van Niekerk said on CNN on Friday, after being asked by Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor about his plans for the 2019 Worlds.

He was well off his best times in London, winning the 400m in 43.98 seconds, albeit decelerating near the finish with the race easily won. In Rio, Van Niekerk clocked the world record 43.03.

And in the 200m, Van Niekerk was overtaken by Guliyev in the final straightaway. He recorded 20.11, well off the 19.84 he ran on June 10.

“Mentally, I was ready,” Van Niekerk said. “Physically, it was a really tough challenge. … But we all knew this was going to happen. We all knew this was how the body was going to feel. I think I’ve fought successfully.

“It was the best I could give in this competition. This is just the beginning of what I can achieve as an athlete.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: World Championships TV schedule

Salt Lake City forms committee to weigh Olympic bid

Getty Images
1 Comment

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has formed an exploratory committee to decide if the city will bid to host the Winter Olympics in either 2026 or 2030 — taking a key step toward trying to become a rare two-time host city.

The group made up of elected officials, business leaders and one key member of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City said Monday that it plans to make a recommendation to state leaders by Feb. 1.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Olympic Committee board said Friday that it was moving forward with discussions about bringing the Winter Games to America for either 2026 or 2030.

Because Los Angeles was recently awarded the 2028 Summer Games, a bid for 2030 would make more sense, chairman Larry Probst said Friday.

The USOC has until next March to pick a city; those expressing interest include Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno, Nevada.

Innsbruck, Austria, said Sunday it wouldn’t bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, taking one more city out of the running. The hosting rights are set to be awarded in July 2019.

The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Since 2012, Salt Lake City has been letting Olympic officials know the city was ready and willing to host again with a plan based on renovating and upgrading venues that have been in use since the Games ended.

The city had previously estimated it could put on a Winter Olympics for about $2 billion, but the committee will come up with a new cost estimate, said Jeff Robbins, the president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.

Robbins is one of three co-chairs on the committee along with Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Fraser Bullock, a key player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics.

Robbins said he thinks the city has a great shot at winning a bid based on the relatively low cost and because it has demonstrated it knows how to maintain venues and keep them in use, putting the city in line with Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach created for future Olympics calling for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

There’s an eight-lane interstate running from the Salt Lake airport, which was upgraded for the Olympics, to Park City, which is the home of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host for key U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country skiing.

Overall, the area has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished more than 15 years ago.

He said an expanded light rail train line grid around Salt Lake City and a $3 billion airport renovation already underway are two examples of how Salt Lake City is even better prepared now to host than in 2002.

But he and other organizers will also have to answer questions about a bidding scandal that marred the 2002 Games and resulted in several International Olympic Committee members losing their positions for taking bribes.

“You can’t control the past,” Robbins said. “The results of what happened I think would certainly speak volumes. While there was some challenges, we hosted arguably one of the best Olympics ever hosted.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Austrians say no to 2026 Olympic bid

Simone Biles announces new coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Simone Biles begins her comeback in earnest next month, she’ll be training under a new coach — Laurent Landi — who coached one of her Olympic teammates, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Landi, a 39-year-old former French gymnast, guided Rio uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian at the Dallas-area gym WOGA, along with wife Cecile.

“[Landi] was in Dallas, which is not far away, and had recently left WOGA, and I had worked with alongside him and know how he is with athletes,” Biles said, according to the newspaper. “He does a good job not letting pressure get to the athletes. You can see some coaches get stressed but he doesn’t.”

Biles’ previous coach since she was 7, Aimee Boorman, left their Houston-area gym for a gymnastics job in Florida after the Rio Games.

Biles said last week she plans to return to full-time training Nov. 1 and return to competition next summer.

Kocian is now at UCLA and uncertain to return to elite gymnastics.

Two other Final Five members — Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez — have said they plan to return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But neither has announced a return to the gym like Biles.

The last member — 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas — has not said whether she will come back.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Gracie Gold in treatment for eating disorder, depression