41 days to the start of the 2016 Grand to Grand Ultra…
What a way to start a new week with Wayde van Niekerk winning the gold medal in the men’s 400m at the Rio Olympics in a new world record time of 43,03 seconds!
Van Niekerk’s winning time smashed the great Michael Johnson’s 17-year old world record of 43, 8 seconds, and his Olympic title follows on the heels of the 400m world title which he won at the 2015 IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Beijing.
Although only 24 years old, Van Niekerk is already the first athlete ever to break ten seconds in the 100m, 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m – and almost broke 43 seconds in Rio!
Following the silver medals won by Cameron van der Berg and Chad Le Clos (swimming), Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling (rowing) and Luvo Manyonga (long jump), and the bronze medal won by the rugby Sevens team, this is South Africa’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympics and one which will be celebrated for a long time to come.
Watching highlights of the race this morning, listening to the race commentary and reading the comments by other athletes, Van Niekerk’s performance was probably one of the most remarkable in the history of athletics and even overshadowed Usain Bolt’s achievement of winning the 100m sprint title for a third time in a row.
Television coverage of Bolt’s facial expression after witnessing Van Niekerk’s performance, and his public embrace of Van Niekerk thereafter, is a further acknowledgement of the unique performance that the crowd in Rio and millions watching on television witnessed on Sunday night.
On top of his stellar performance, Van Niekerk was humble in the way he acknowledged his fellow competitors and celebrated his achievement.
He is a perfect role model for all South Africans, and as Hashim Amla tweeted this morning…”Representing the immense potential of South Africa and it’s people”.
This fellow South African will not be winning any medals at the upcoming Grand to Grand Ultra in the United States. However, as a sports nut, whenever South African teams such as the Springboks, Proteas and Bafana Bafana, or individual athletes such as Wayde van Niekerk, achieve something special, it gives me that extra motivation required for tough training sessions and when participating in a desert race in some remote corner of the world.
Thank you Wayde van Niekerk for the inspiration!
The countdown to the Grand to Grand Ultra continues…
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Together, we can END NTDs!