Wayde blitzes to new world record and grabs SA's first gold in Rio | SASCOC - SASCOC
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Wayde blitzes to new world record and grabs SA’s first gold in Rio

By Mark Etheridge

Ten days ago he waved the flag for Team South Africa as the world looked on at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio.
Sunday saw Wayde van Niekerk ruling the world as he raced to gold in the 400-metre track event, earning South Africa’s first track gold medal since re-admission to world sport back in 1992.
In imperious form from gun to line, Van Niekerk was never headed as he also obliterated United States superstar Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old record of 43.18 seconds with a time of 43.03.
The victory earned Team SA their first gold of the Games to go with their five silvers and bronze and with just under a week to go to add even more medals to that.
Winning gold meant South Africa jumped from 41st to 21st on the medals table.
Speaking afterwards Van Niekerk was still shell-shocked. ‘I’d love to tell you guys more but I honestly can’t remember the race, I’ll have to go back and watch it on television,’ he smiled bemusedly. ‘All I know is that I left it all out there tonight. I left it in God’s hands here at a challenging Olympics.
‘I ran blind the whole race, I still don’t know what happened out there but it was just so awesome to be here and inspired by guys like Usain Bolt, Michael Johnson, and tonight guys who I ran against like Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt.
‘I struggled with a few niggles and nerves here but I had my whole family here to share this opportunity.
‘What I can remember is that I thought someone would catch me, it was quite lonely out there and thought “what’s going on?” but I kept on pushing and even dived a bit for the finish line.
‘In terms of strategy it was just to go and do my best. I just went for it. When I saw the time I was really amazed. I went out there for any medal tonight.. just wanted top three, I got that, a world record, lifetime best.. wow.
‘It was just so great to have my family here and to witness it.
‘It’s just so unreal, don’t even think I was in that race tonight… I even had the chance to do a victory lap!’
As for the extended Van Niekerk family there was huge jubilation, if a little disbelief. Dad Steven Swarts said: ‘I’m still on cloud nine. It’s so difficult to explain. I’m still shivering. I am the proudest father on earth. I believe that it was Fathers Day in Brazil… so what a gift.
‘I still can’t believe that I raised a world champ, Olympic champ, world record holder, Olympic record holder.
‘The last three years were and are the best years of my life… I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes and the entire family was here, all 10 of us!’
Going into the race, Van Niekerk had drawn what had looked to be a disadvantaged eighth-lane draw. It meant that he’d start on the outside looking in and be the rabbit for the likes of defending champion James and 2008 Olympic champion  Merritt to hunt down from behind.
Only thing was that this illustrious duo were the ones being left behind as Van Niekerk went out hard, held his lead down the back straight and into the home straight before finding yet another gear to pull further away.
A nervous looking Van Niekerk’s race number was pinned onto his chest in lopsided fashion, and he had bright red physio strapping on his right hamstring. But when the gun went the only thing that remained lopsided was the margin of victory and the only colour on his mind was green for go!
James went on to finish second in 43.76 and Merritt rounded off the podium with a 43.85.
After he crossed the line, Van Niekerk returned to the finish line, going down on one knee to look back at where he’d just come from, leaving record books rewritten and a personal best by a staggering 0.45sec for the Bloemfontein blitz who won Commonwealth Games silver in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago before getting gold at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China.
A measure of the quality field was that the first six of the eight-strong field ran either personal bests, season’s bests or national bests.
One of those who didn’t do any of the above was James’ Grenadian countryman Bralon Taplin in lane four. He said: ‘I had kinda imagined the scenario where Wayde would be out in front for at least 300 metres but then what happens is that they would normally crash and burn.. but not this guy, he just carried on running away!’
Spare a thought for Van Niekerk’s team-mate Akani Simbine who blasted his way into the men’s 100m final, believed to be the first SA athlete in the blue riband event in 84 years.
And Simbine was by no means disgraced as he raced to fifth spot in a time of 9.94sec as the phenomenon that is Usain Bolt defended his Olympic title with a win in 9.81sec, ahead of Justin Gatlin (9.89) and Canada’s Andre de Grasse (9.91).

Picture of Van Niekerk courtesy of Getty Images


69 Comments

  1. Peter Jonsson

    August 15, 2016 at 5:08 am

    BRILLIANT stuff Wayde, CONGRATULATIONS !!!!!!!

  2. Sandra Horn

    August 15, 2016 at 5:10 am

    The best, gold for SA!!!!

  3. Mala Toorie

    August 15, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Congrats and so proud of him

  4. Vanessa Weyers

    August 15, 2016 at 5:12 am

    U0001f49aU0001f49bU0001f44dU0001f3fb Awesome Wayde!! Congrats

  5. Marlette Du Toit Vermeulen

    August 15, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Congrats Wayde!!! Super proud U0001f499

  6. Linda Watson

    August 15, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Woohoohoo I can’t wait to watch the race!!

  7. Belinda Bell Jackson

    August 15, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Way(de) to go, Wayde!!!

  8. Catherine Parish

    August 15, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Well done Wayde!!! I can’t imagine how amazing you must feel right now. What a spectacular performance!! Well done!!

  9. Bulelwa Thomby Mbotho Bulelwa

    August 15, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Wow thnkyou #Boss 🙁

  10. Hanlie Liebenberg

    August 15, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Congrats to Wayde and Tannie Ans! Both legends not only in SA but now also in the World!!!

  11. Jinty Torr Ford

    August 15, 2016 at 5:42 am

    You BEAUT!!! No words just super proud!!! What a magic moment for you and our country!!

  12. Trish McAlister

    August 15, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Such a humble young man… Phew but with such amazing talent!

  13. Bryan Courtney

    August 15, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Wow! Incredible talent and huge amount of tenacious grit to win a 400m Gold. It’s a flipping tough race! And to smash a world record that stood for so long. Truly Amazing Wayde van Niekerk!!

  14. Rosetta Van Eeden

    August 15, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Congrats that’s awesome

  15. Magadi Katuma

    August 15, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Lane 8 made me panick for him but he got it @ the palm of his hand. Congrats brother, we are proud! There was no better way to win our first Gold…..

  16. Sinazo Zizo Stokwe

    August 15, 2016 at 5:48 am

    congrats to Wayde, I’m still watching the highlight

  17. Shanthi Naidoo

    August 15, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Well done Wayde. You did South Africa very proud. Congratulations.

  18. Warwick Anderson

    August 15, 2016 at 5:52 am

    So proud of you!!! What an amazing record, running blind in 8. You’ll break past 43 one day, I’m certain of it.

  19. Jean-marie Campher

    August 15, 2016 at 5:53 am

    Amazing Wayde!! Ons is trots op jou

  20. Mmoloki Fredrick Seele

    August 15, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Goosebumps nearly killed me. ..

  21. Noko Mabitsela

    August 15, 2016 at 5:56 am

    Jamaica Puma …USA Nike …China Nike …..Botswana Nike en etc South Africa No Name … wats tat really. .. Sascoc please take our athletes serious …Olympic Standard is very high

  22. Jacqui Cameron Baumgardt

    August 15, 2016 at 5:57 am

    super-duper – we are proudly South African. Well done, Wayde.

  23. Deirdre Swanepoel

    August 15, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Another miracle and world record holder from the Free State! Going to be tired all day but it was soooo worth it to see this!! Just amazing!!

  24. Brigitte Brink

    August 15, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Baaaai mooi , baaaaaie geluk

  25. Vuyisani Jay Vee

    August 15, 2016 at 6:01 am

    Well done I knew he will win gold for us

  26. Zulmira Ferraz

    August 15, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Congratulations Wayde!!! You must be so proud of yourself, as we are of you for flying our flag so high!! An amazing achievement!!!

  27. Paula Potgieter

    August 15, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Whaw!!!! Well done!!!!!

  28. Gladys Vanwyk

    August 15, 2016 at 6:10 am

    History, Gold,a world record!!!!! we are lucky to have such talent Congratulation well done to you, well done to South Africa – Proudly SA

  29. Jesica Ninnon

    August 15, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Ja wat di Here is goed ali eer moet Jesus kry well done wayde

  30. Michelle Trimborn

    August 15, 2016 at 6:20 am

    You beaut Wayde!! ‘Goud’ van Niekerk

  31. Sandra Acton

    August 15, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Well done Wade!U0001f3c5U0001f3c5U0001f3c5

  32. Emmartia Becker Maartens

    August 15, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Welgedaan, witblits Wayde!

  33. Nombulelo Cekwana

    August 15, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Well done. been watching you from day one. ✌

  34. Izak Postma

    August 15, 2016 at 6:26 am

    Baie geluk Wayde….skitterend..!!!!

  35. Nazia Kalam

    August 15, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Well done go Wayde!!!!

  36. Leonorah Mdanisi

    August 15, 2016 at 6:36 am

    South Africa is proud of uou son. Well done

  37. Lisle Carolissen

    August 15, 2016 at 6:38 am

    You done it Wayde. So proud of you!

  38. Danny Cairncross

    August 15, 2016 at 6:39 am

    The commentators are so irritating, the first focused on the other two and then to he’s shock Wayne was leading.

  39. Leonorah Mdanisi

    August 15, 2016 at 6:40 am

    WAYS HAS DONE IT FOR SOUTH AFRICA. BREAK ING THE WORLD RECORD.MZANSI MGI AGAIN.

  40. Adele Pretorius

    August 15, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Dit maak my so gelukkig! Ek kan nie ophou kyk hierna nie! So trots!

  41. Lauren Shear

    August 15, 2016 at 6:44 am

    What an awesome race…Wayde you are a phenomenon. ..we had no doubt that you would do it

  42. Sigi Preusker

    August 15, 2016 at 6:53 am

    big congratulations – well done – really superb !!!

  43. Tesh Blackbaas

    August 15, 2016 at 6:56 am

    3 guys under 44.He must coach you guys Clinton Shikwambane

  44. Linda Bamford Hefer

    August 15, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Huge congrats Wade!! You make us so proud!! U0001f44fU0001f3fcU0001f3c5U0001f1ffU0001f1e6

  45. Clinton Shikwambane

    August 15, 2016 at 7:10 am

    He must come on the pressure bus

  46. Monica Johan Breet

    August 15, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Baie trots op hom en Baie bly vir sa

  47. Arnold Weerts

    August 15, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Fantastic performance!!!! Was getting a bit depressed with our results to date.

  48. Palma Stewart

    August 15, 2016 at 7:16 am

    What a guy! What a race! Very proud of this amazing athlete!

  49. Siyamamkela Sammy

    August 15, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Gold,new record nd second south african to do so none adar dan de Rock star…amazing

  50. Fiona Chudleigh

    August 15, 2016 at 8:55 am

    What an absolutely thrilling race congratulations Wayde on your excellent achievement can’t stop watching the re-ran.

  51. Fiona Hills

    August 15, 2016 at 8:58 am

    And congratulations to Akani Simbine on his fantastic run with Usain Bolt

  52. Jeffrey Pillay

    August 15, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Congrats Wade….You made all South Africans proud.

  53. Beverley Anne McMillan Parker

    August 15, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Fantastic!! Inspired!! Congratulations!!!

  54. Sais du Plooy

    August 15, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Difficult to say how a person running in lane 8 will be positioned on the final 100meters. Very difficult line to run because you can’t see the pace of your opponents next to you.
    I think the fact that he ran his own pace in lane 8 made him reach his potential under pressure. Otherwise I believed he would’ve naturally stayed on pace with the other 2 medalists.

  55. Sais du Plooy

    August 15, 2016 at 9:10 am

    And then it wouldn’t have been a World Record ! I promise you

  56. Tesh Blackbaas

    August 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Hahaha he won’t handle pressure.he will cry first day

  57. Clinton Shikwambane

    August 15, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Haha! Then we will firre him.

  58. Robyn Calvert

    August 15, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Watch those that had nothing to do with it take all the credit …

  59. Barry Dunnett

    August 15, 2016 at 11:22 am

    That is such fantastic news.

  60. Elshia Nienaber

    August 15, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Hier is die link Coerina Golding Karen Nienaber Melissa Nienaber Werner Nienaber Kyla Nienaber Gee al ons uitslae

  61. Lynette Stais

    August 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    So proud! Well done Wade!U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f1ffU0001f1e6

  62. Annelize Nothnagel Victor

    August 15, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I live in Houston and last night all my American neighbors and friends were texting me as Wayde shattered that record! So freaking proud of you Wayde! And proud of your love for our country and your positive attitude. Love from Houston, TX

  63. Roslyn Everitt

    August 15, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Go Team SA !!! U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f1ffU0001f1e6U0001f3c5U0001f3c5U0001f3c5

  64. Comien Moffat

    August 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    So proud U0001f913

  65. Fay Miller

    August 15, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Wayde you are a star!

  66. Eric Lowther

    August 15, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Guys check the pic as he crosses the line…42.8 sec…was he ripped?

  67. Marva Yarde

    August 15, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    What a great run! Congratulations

  68. Devanr

    August 16, 2016 at 4:07 am

    It would be great if team SA could still get Wayde to run in the 200m at Rio against Usain Bolt. Would be great for South Africa.

  69. Trixie Tripodi

    August 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Congratluations Wayde van Niekerk and Ans Botha!! You deserved the win!!! The world us proud of you!!!

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