Letter: Van Niekerk compared to Hermes

In his An Educated Guess column of August 25 (“Re-think our ideas of gender”), Jonathan Jansen takes issue with a TV commentator, in describing Wayde van Niekerk’s record-breaking run, saying, “He had wings on his feet in the last 50m”. Jansen suggests that the commentator was prejudiced and was in fact implying that “something must have assisted him to run beyond his natural ability”.

Now if I were to take an uneducated guess I would surmise that the commentator was in fact being complimentary of Van Niekerk’s natural ability and was likening him to Hermes, the messenger of the gods of ancient Greece, who was usually depicted wearing winged sandals, to emphasise his speed. This comparison would be most apt, as Hermes was also the patron of athletes.

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