LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 08: Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa celebrates after winning the Men's 400 metres final during day five of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 8, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Olympic 400m champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk is parting ways with beloved Tannie Ans Botha to head off to the United States where he will step up his preparations ahead of defending his title at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

The 28-year-old continued his comeback from a serious knee injury suffered in 2017 by coming through a number of low-key events, both in South Africa and internationally, unscathed. Now he has decided to amicably part ways with long-time coach ‘Tannie’ Ans Botha, who won the Coaching Achievement Award at the 2017 IAAF Athletics Awards in Monaco, and head to the USA.

Van Niekerk will sharpen up for the Games under renowned sprint mentor Lance Brauman, who is an official Adidas coach. His training partners at his new base in Claremont, Florida, will include the likes of American sprinter Noah Lyles, the 200m world champion; and Bahamian athlete Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the women’s Olympic 400m gold medallist.

Coach Anna “Ans” Botha (C) poses with the trophy after receiving the Coaching Achievement Award during the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF Athletics Awards 2017 in Monaco on November 24, 2017. / Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

‘I’ve spent most of my career under the guidance of “Tannie” Ans Botha at my home base in Bloemfontein and I can’t express the gratitude I have for everything she has done to help me get to this point in my career,’ explained Van Niekerk.

‘As much as I have enjoyed my experience with Tannie Ans and her group, I am hoping to break my world record (43.03 seconds) and to do that I need to ensure I am training alongside the world’s best sprinters. So I feel a temporary move to the United States will be in my best interests for the immediate future.

‘I look forward to working with my new coach and training partners, and I hope to continue carrying the South African flag with pride at international level.’

Van Niekerk will reassess his plans for the future after the Tokyo Olympic Games, to be held in July and August.

Source: TeamSA.co.za