World record holder, Olympic champion, world champion: 400m legend Wayde van Niekerk is an athlete worth listening to. The South African superstar offers his top tips.
Make the most of your opportunities and don’t let them slip. Often athletes will not make the most of their opportunities because they allow nerves to get the better of them. It is important to dig deep, swallow those nerves and put your best foot forward.
This will allow you to save your best for the major competitions. It is medals that count and I have learned to apply that to my career.
Eat your vegetables. I still struggle to eat vegetables. I prefer fruit.
When it come to the 400m, the first 200m should always be faster than the second 200m. I like to execute the 400m just as aggressively as I would the 100m or 200m.
Definitely your sneakers need to be clean and on point. If they are not clean, then you are missing a trick.
Tip for surviving the athletics circuit
It is very important to find a way to step back, take time out to look after yourself and rest. Some athletes, in the hype of the moment, forget about themselves.
It is something I always try to do; to take a step back and a deep breath. I would recommend to take time to read a book and get the body to rest. We work our bodies very hard every day and sometimes we forget to rest.
I think in the lead up races at major championships, they can become quite tactical and what tactics are adopted are determined by the competition and who you are up against.
For example, before the Rio Olympic Games, I was struggling with a back and hamstring injury, so I was hoping to save something every single race to avoid injury. Even during the heats and semi-finals of the Olympic Games I was saving as much energy as I could.
When it comes to a major championship final, like a World Championships or an Olympic Games, when the gun goes there is no holding back. When it comes to tactics, it depends how you feel and what your specific goals are for the day. I know in 2016, the only time I broke 44 seconds for the season came in the Olympic final.
I am more of an outdoor cook and I love to cook on the braai [barbecue]. I take a lot of pride in my ability to cook chops. Nobody has complained so far! I often forget about the salad, but I like to have garlic bread with the chops.
In terms of specific tips, well only a braai master would know the length of time you should cook the chops. The meat will speak to me.
I would say it is when my coach, Anna Botha, tells me to not let the opportunity slip. My coach often tells me to hold tight to what I have, because you don’t know if it is going to be there tomorrow. She tells me I have the talent; it is up to me as to whether I make the most of that talent.
Social media tip
Do not reply to direct messages!
Video game tip
I like to play FIFA and I would simply say, score more goals! Also, play as Liverpool [van Niekerk supports the English Premier League team] because they are the best team to play as.