LONDON: Wayde van Niekerk says he is building his own “image and brand” and doesn’t want to be tagged as the successor to track and field legends Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson.
The 25-year-old South African 400 metres world record holder just missed out on emulating Johnson’s feat of the 200/400m world championship double, which the American achieved in the 1995 championships, when he took silver in the 200 metres on Thursday behind Ramil Guliyev of Turkey.
He had successfully defended his 400m world title earlier in the week.
Nevertheless, van Niekerk, who was unusually emotional after the race, raising his arms in celebration when he heard he had finished second, said he believed his effort had been “successful”.
However, he dismissed comparisons with either Johnson — whose 400m world record the South African shattered when he won the Olympic title last year — or 100/200m world record holder Bolt.
“I will never try and fill Usain’s shoes, or Michael’s,” said van Niekerk.
“I’ve shown enough dominance, hard work and performances to start building my own image and brand.