South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk wins the men's 400-meter final at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)


With Usain Bolt racing toward retirement, it's time for some new stars in track and field.

Wayde van Niekerk, the South African who broke Michael Johnson's 17-year-old 400-meter world record to take Olympic gold in Rio, could be one of them.

Johnson sure thinks so.




Here's a few things you may not know about the new 400-meter Olympic champion.

He's pretty good friends with Bolt. Van Niekerk went over to Jamaica a few months before the Olympics to train with Bolt. Bolt's reaction to Van Niekerk's stunning run was pretty much like everyone else's at the Olympic Stadium:



Van Niekerk has a habit of pushing himself to the point of pure exhaustion over one lap. His run in the Olympic final was mindblowing. When he won the world title last year in Beijing, he left on a strecher, flat out.


(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)


Van Niekerk is a big fan of English soccer club Liverpool. He watched a Liverpool game on TV (they won) ahead of his stunning world-record run at the Olympics. The team and some of his favorite players sent HIM messages after the race:


Van Niekerk is also pretty quick over 100 and 200 meters. In fact, he's the only man ever to run under 10 seconds for 100 meters, under 20 for 200 and under 44 for 400. That's prompted a few people to speculate that he might be someone to challenge Bolt in the 200, maybe at Bolt's swansong at the world championships next year.


(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)