Wayde van Niekerk Named Male Athlete of the Rio Olympic Games


Penelope Cairns |

SA’s golden athlete was awarded the best male athlete of the Rio Olympics at the Association of National Olympic Committees awards in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

Image from Wayde van Niekerk's Twitter page. ANOC Olympics
Image from Wayde van Niekerk’s Twitter page. ANOC Olympics

Wayde van Niekerk made history during the Rio Olympic Games when he shattered a 17-year-old world record in the 400 metres by running 43.03. American Michael Johnson held the previous mark of 43.18, set in 1999.

The gold medallist from 2012, Grenada’s Kirani James, won silver with a 43.76, followed by American LaShawn Merritt, who earned a bronze with a 43.85. It was the first time in Olympic history that three men ran under 44 seconds in a 400-metre race.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa celebrates after winning the Men's 400 meter final and setting a new world record of 43.03 on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa celebrates after winning the Men’s 400 metre final and setting a new world record of 43.03 on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Van Niekerk, who appeared in his first Olympics, was the first South African to win gold in the event in 96 years. Though the performance puts him in the history books, van Niekerk had previously become the only person to ever run under 10 seconds in the 100, under 20 seconds in the 200, and under 44 seconds in the 400. The 24-year-old ran his world record during the Olympics from the eighth lane, defeating his opponents by a stunning margin.

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