“When I got over the finish line, I felt like a proud South African, not a proud colored South African. I’m happy and proud to be an ambassador for my country.”
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Olympic champion and world record holder in the 400m track and field, Wayde van Nierkerk of South Africa holds the distinction of being the only individual to have run the 100m under 10 seconds, 200m sub 20 seconds and the 400m below 44 seconds.
“I think your child only has 24 hours to live.”
Wayde van Nierkerk was born three months premature on July 15, 1992 – precisely eleven weeks earlier than scheduled. His mother Odessa, a dominant track athlete in the late 1980s and early ‘90s who never got a chance to represent South Africa because of the apartheid rule, was told that her son would barely survive 24 hours – and if he managed to, would live with a disability.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25050″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_single_image image=”25051″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]Growing up in Athlone, Cape Town (where he was born) young Wayde showed he inherited the athletics genes of his parents (apart from Odessa, his father Wayne was also a high jumper) from Bellville Primary School. At the South African Under-11s Championships in 2003, he won the 100m and was named Bellville’s Sports Boy, a year later.
A graduate of the University of the Free State where he studied Marketing, Wayde van Nierkerk made his international debut in 2010 at the 13th World Junior Championships in Athletics held in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada where he could only manage a fourth place finish in the 200m. The following year, he made his senior bow winning the 200m at the South African Athletics Championships.
In 2013, Wayde started emerging as a 400m runner, winning the event at the South African Athletics Championships to bag his carrier second national title. At the World University Games (XXVII Summer Universiade) in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, he picked a bronze medal as a member of the 4x400m relay quartet.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25052″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]Wayde van Nierkerk ran 44:92 his first sub-45 secs in the 400m at a national meet in April 2014. At the New York Diamond League, he took silver behind 2008 Olympics champion, LaShawn Merritt of USA in a time of 44:38 seconds, eclipsing the previous South African record set in September 2000. Later at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, he won silver behind the 2012 Olympics champion, Kirani James of Grenada.
In July 2015, he posted a time of 19:94 in the 200m at a meet in Luzern, Switzerland. A month later at the 15th IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, Wayde won the 400m gold ahead of James and Merritt. He ran so hard and had to be taken off the tracks on a stretcher after collapsing with an injury.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25053″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]On March 12, 2016, Wayde became the 107th athlete to break the 10secs barrier in the100m with a time of 9:98. By doing so, he became the first and only man to run the 100m in sub-10secs, 200m in sub-20secs and the 400m in sub-44secs. However, the best was yet to come as Wayde van Nierkerk erased the great Michael Johnson 400m world record at the Rio Olympics.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25054″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]Running in lane 8, Wayde blew the competition away beating two previous Olympics champions over the distance (Merritt of USA and James of Grenada) in a time of 43:03secs to set a new world, Olympics and African record in the 400m. He is the first man to win an Olympic 400m from lane 8 and the feat is so phenomenal that people expect him to be the first athlete to go under 43 seconds in the 400m, considering his young age. Incredibly, Wayde is coached by his septuagenarian Namibian grandmother Ans Botha![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”25055″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]Afro Tourism® salutes this exceptional African athlete, world and Olympics champion and record holder, national hero, and African Icon, Wayde van Nierkerk.
For additional information, please see: