He has run the 100 metres this year faster than Usain Bolt. Wayde’s in the category of extraordinary. There is no doubt he is the most complete sprinter of all time. Even Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt can’t argue with that.” says Roger Black
He holds the world records for both 300m and 400m which previously were the property of Michael Johnson.
And so talented is he that the World Championships schedule has been changed to allow him a shot at the 200-400m double.
Little wonder the search for the successor to Bolt has stopped at the door of South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk.
“He’s in the category of extraordinary,” said British 400m great Roger Black. “There is no doubt he is the most complete sprinter of all time. Even Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt can’t argue with that.
“That isn’t a rash statement. Michael never broke 10 seconds for the 100m and Usain didn’t come close to running under 44 for the 400.
“Wayde’s statistic of breaking 10, breaking 20 (for 200m) and breaking 44, probably soon to break 43, is nothing short of incredible. No-one has ever done that.”
Bolt says Van Niekerk is the man to replace him, predicting: “He will take over, without a doubt.”
And nobody who saw the 25-year-old break the quarter-mile world record from lane eight in Rio would argue that the future is his.
But Van Niekerk is too respectful of Bolt to make any bold claims while the king of the sport is still on the throne.
His attitude to athletics might be pure Bolt, saying of records: “I long time don’t believe in unbeatable any more.”
But as for filling the Jamaican’s shoes, that’s another thing altogether.
“That’s a massive responsibility. I have to be honest, as an athlete I’ve still got quite a long way to go before I even get close to the heights Usain has reached.
“Hopefully I can reach those heights and maybe even come close to the times he has run, but now we have to give him the respect he’s due.”
Matching feats achievements on the track is only half the deal, emulating him as a showman also comes with the job description.
“Slowly but surely I’m opening up,” said the quietly-spoke Capetonian. “But I find it extremely difficult to come even close to what Usain has represented in his charismatic ways.
“Usain has set the bar quite high! I’m going out to showcase who I am but I need to be me. Hopefully I can win hearts over as I am.