Wayde van Niekerk anchors Africa to victory in the 4x400m at the IAAF Continental Cup, Marrakech 2014 (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Work, rest and play – Wayde van Niekerk

Commonwealth and African 400m silver medallist Wayde Van Niekerk has been a breakthrough star in 2014 and last weekend he anchored Africa to victory in the 4x400m at the IAAF Continental Cup.

We speak to the South African one-lap record-holder about his life at work, rest and play.

Wayde at work


What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

Wayde van Niekerk: The first one would be getting to meet different people. Secondly, being given the opportunity to visit different countries. And the third would be knowing I am making the people back home proud through my performances.


Do you have a favourite type of training session?

WVN: Anything with speed; the faster the better. Any session which allows me to compete with the other sprinters in the training group.


What’s your least favourite training session?

WVN: I don't like the longer sessions. Once the lactic kicks in, I'm not a happy guy.


Do you have a favourite training partner?

WVN: I'd say it is my one of my best friends, Gideon Trotter (a former African junior 100m champion and 10.23 sprinter). He's strong and one of South Africa’s best up and coming athletes.


What is your favourite training venue?

WVN: Gemona in Italy, my European training base. It is very peaceful and calm.


What is the worst thing about being an athlete?

WVN: I enjoy seeing new countries, but the actual act of travelling and getting on a flight every week and having to either get up early for a fight or to land late at night is not so much fun.

Wayde at rest


Where is your favourite place to relax?

WVN: My bed at home. I'm happy at home playing Xbox.


Describe your perfect non-training day.

WVN: Spending time with the family. Maybe playing a game of soccer and playing FIFA on the xBox. I'm a huge Liverpool fan.


What do you enjoy relaxing to on TV?

WVN: I definitely like comedies. I like laughing, so I like anything which cheers me up. I'm a huge fan of the Bad Boy movies and recently I really enjoyed watching 22 Jump Street.


Do you have a favourite meal?

WVN: Anything that my mother cooks! I really love meat. I enjoy anything that contains meat.


Do you have a favourite type of music?

WVN: I'm very flexible and open-minded when it comes to music.

Wayde at play


When did your interest in football begin?

WVN: I played a lot of football in high school and that’s when I really started to enjoy the game. I don't think the soccer players sometimes liked me playing against them. I remember playing against my close friend and he said “please calm down, I'm getting tired.” I always had that competitive edge. I don't like to lose.  


How did football help your athletics?

WVN: I played indoor soccer for quite some time, which is physically very demanding and involves a lot of explosiveness, ideal for my event.


If you could pick one person from the world of athletics to star as a footballer, who would it be?

WVN: I think any 100m sprinter would be good. In fact four top sprinters – Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and two others – would make a strong defence which would make it very hard for the attacking team.


Which footballer would make the best sprinter?

WVN: I'm a huge fan of Cristiano Ronaldo. I think he would be quite quick, but I also think Gareth Bale would make a good 400m runner, although I hope he doesn’t take up athletics because he might give me a hard time!


You made reference to the fact you are a Liverpool fan. Do you have a favourite Reds player?

WVN: Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. I also enjoy watching Raheem Sterling play as well.


Steve Landells for the IAAF