RIO OLYMPIC GAMES: Meet the newest 400-meter sprint king from SA: Wade van Niekerk
Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa lowered the 400-meter sprint to an astounding 43.03 seconds RIO de JANEIRO (AFKI) — South African running sensation Wayde van Niekerk made a name for himself on the
Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa lowered the 400-meter sprint to an astounding 43.03 seconds
RIO de JANEIRO (AFKI) — South African running sensation Wayde van Niekerk made a name for himself on the global stage at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio by winning the men’s 400-meter sprint gold in world record time.
The 24-year-old athlete has been preparing for an excellent performance for Team SA in Brazil, with the country expecting great things from the 400-meter star. The humble sportsman delivered on his athletic promise and reaped the rewards for his hard work in preparing for Rio 2016.
To celebrate the achievement of South Africa’s newest sports hero, here’s a look at some things you probably don’t know about South African athlete due to his meteoric rise.
Van Niekerk stole the Olympic spotlight with a phenomenal men’s 400-meter victory, setting a new world record in the event with a time of 43.03 seconds in the one-lap sprint. He eased to victory despite the level of competition, as he ran away from former Olympic men’s 400 champions, Kirani James in 2012, and LaShawn Merritt in 2008.
In winning the Rio Olympics 2016 men’s 400, he managed to break the 17-year record held by Michael Johnson at 43.18, and the 1996 Olympic record of 43.49.
Soon after winning the Olympic gold medal, Van Niekerk was personally congratulated and embraced by Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt, who trained alongside Van Niekerk in Jamaica a few months before the Rio Games
While Team SA had done well to earn five silver and one bronze medal, they had yet to achieve the gold. Van Niekerk took care of that feat, securing the country’s first gold in Brazil with the incredible performance.
Van Niekerk had already made history at the Free State Championships in March 2016 by becoming the sole athlete in history to run the 100-meter dash under 10 seconds (9.98), the 200 meters under 20 seconds (19.94), and the 400 meters under 44 seconds (43.48). To the latter, you can now 43.03. That puts Van Niekerk in a class of his own.
Leading up to the Rio Olympics, Van Niekerk ran the third fastest 300 meters ever while training in Jamaica, clocking 31.03 at the National Stadium in Kingston. Only Michael Johnson (30.85) and Usain Bolt (30.97) have run faster.
In addition to his Olympic gold medal, Van Niekerk won a silver medal in the 400 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and also earned bronze in the 4×400 meter relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade. He ran triumphantly for South Africa at the 2015 World Championships‚ where he ran his previous best clocking of 43.48 in the 400 to win the gold medal.
Van Niekerk was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, where he attended Grey College before going on to study marketing at the University of the Free State.
Socially, Van Niekerk is working in collaboration with Cartoon Network and ChildLine regarding their international anti-bullying campaign, CN Buddy Network in South Africa. Children are encouraged to “be a buddy, not a bully,” with the aim of raising awareness and empowering kids against bullying.