Wayde van Niekerk Named Male Athlete of the Rio Olympic Games
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.
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.
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.