South African golden boy Wayde van Niekerk returned to SA to a hero’s welcome almost a month after winning the 400m gold medal and breaking the world record at the Rio Olympic Games.
Van Niekerk said he was overwhelmed when he arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday morning to find ecstatic South Africans waiting to welcome him back home.
Van was also presented with a cheque for R1million by his sponsors T-Systems‚ who agreed before the Games that they would pay the amount if he broke the world record at the global showpiece.
The athlete dedicated his achievements to his 74-year-old coach Ans Botha‚ and he said she deserved all the credit for moulding him into the world class athlete he is today.
“I literally leave all my trust in her hands‚” he said.
“I give her all the credit for all the sacrifices.”
Van Niekerk won SA’s first gold medal at the Olympic Games last month and he did it in fine style by breaking legendary US athlete Michael Johnson’s long-standing 17-year-old 400m record.
The South African crossed the finish line in a breathtaking 43:03 seconds‚ bettering Johnson’s old mark of 43:18 seconds.