By Ian Grosch
Two track stars, multiple world records and olympic titles to be taken. One of the biggest rivalries that will take place in the Tokyo 2022 Olympics is between the American athlete, Michael Norman, and the South African athlete, Wayde Van Niekirk. With quarantine taking place and ending nearly every race up to the Olympics we can only assume who will attain the largest titles.
With Michael Norman only being 23 years old, there is no doubt that he will continue to surprise the crowd. Prior to taking the world leading time in the 100m at 9.86s, Norman prioritized training for the 400m event, as he achieved numerous spectacular accomplishments in the country-wide competitions in multiple years of his life.
The only other athlete with an astonishing career is Wayde Van Niekirk, holding the current 400m world record at 43.03s. However, if we take a look back at Norman’s 2019 career, there are numerous breathtaking performances Norman presented. On June 6th, 2019, Norman ran an incredible 19.70s 200m dash in the Diamond League. This was also the only race Noah Lyles, the leading 200m sprinter, ever lost in his entire career. Along with this, Lyles went on to win the 2019 200m world championships with a gold medal; meaning Norman could have challenged Lyles in the title for gold.
However this was not the only impressive race shown by Norman. His best race in 2019 was his very first race running a 43.45s 400m, the 4th fastest time in the history of the event. The fact this was his first race of the season, It is clear Norman has major room to decrease this time, possible below 43 seconds. Athletes build up their skill through years of training, however Norman’s first race of the year remained the leading time for the rest of the year. This time would have placed Norman ahead of the 2019 400m world champion Steven Gardiner, and instead granted Norman the title of global world champion. He only missed the race due to a major leg injury in the semifinals.
After numerous achievements in all 3 sprinting events and showing guaranteed improvement in every race, the world record holder Wayde Van Niekirk might have major troubles with the younger generation challenging the olympic titles.