Van Niekerk ready to take on legendary Bolt's mantle

16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017- Previews

A passing of the baton at a major athletics meet seems an apt metaphor.

Bolt, now 30, comes into this London edition of the World Championships, not as a sensation heralding a revolution, but instead hanging onto his empire against the challenge of Father Time and young pretenders. Now he is adding the 200m in London as he aims to emulate Johnson's double from the 1995 worlds and 1996 Olympics.

6 - Bolt's record tally of IAAF World Athlete of the Year awards.

Asked if he was disappointed to miss out on a glamour showdown, he replied: "I don't think you can really use the word "disappointed". I feel I've worked hard and deserve to be on the stage and I'm ready to compete.

7 - The number of times Bolt has set a world-record time across his specialist events.

He bristled at suggestions that he was not favourite to win the 100m crown.

Beyond the awesome things Bolt did throughout his career, two record runs by other athletes stand out over the past decade: David Rudisha setting a world record to win the 800 meters at the London Olympics and South Africa's Van Niekerk running in the outside lane at the Rio Games a year ago to win gold with a 400-meter world record.

"We won't have that problem, don't worry about it".

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"It's a championships and the two rounds always help me". De Grasse was seen as one of the strongest challengers to the Jamaican, who will be competing for the final time, and his withdrawal will mean that Bolt will fancy his chances even more. But this superior footwear combined with advances in training are why Bolt, Van Niekerk and Farah are so much faster than their predecessors.

"It's a massive honour to be able to learn and rub shoulders with a great like Usain", he told reporters at an Adidas public event.

Don't count on him running all three sprints in London, though.

The 21-year-old only turned professional in June, but it was after he became the fastest man in the world this year when he clocked a 9.82 in the 100 meters at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. He has 8 world titles to go along with eight Olympic golds.

After more than two years cruelled by injury and with world record holder Kendra Harrison also in the field, Pearson has declared that a podium finish would rival any of her previous achievements on the track.

The right shoe is labelled "Forever" and uses the same purple and green colours as the William Knibb High School where he began his running career, while the left shoe is labelled "Fastest" and is gold to signify the medal position he has finished in at every global championship since 2008.

"His impact on the sport has been massive, and now I'm having the opportunity to build a small relationship with him, and I continue my journey", Van Niekerk said.

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