Olympic champion Van Niekerk leaves long-time coach to train in the U.S.

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JOHANNESBURG - Olympic 400 metres champion Wayde van Niekerk has temporarily separated from long-time coach ‘Tannie’ Ans Botha to train in the United States under renowned sprint mentor Lance Brauman.

The South African smashed Michael Johnson’s world record at the Rio de Janeiro Games to claim gold in a time of 43.03, but has barely competed since a serious knee injury sustained in a charity touch rugby game in October 2017.

He will train at Brauman’s Florida base along with 200-metre world champion Noal Lyles and Olympic champion in the women’s 400-metres in 2016, Shaune Miller-Uibo.

"As much as I have enjoyed my experience with Tannie Ans and her group, I am hoping to break my world record and to do that I need to ensure I am training alongside the world’s best sprinters,” Van Niekerk said in a statement on Saturday.

"So I feel a temporary move to the United States will be in my best interests for the immediate future."

Van Niekerk confirmed he would reassess his training plans after the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)