Wayde van Niekerk (born 15 July 1992) is a South African track and field sprinter who competes in the 200 metres and 400 metres.
He is the current world record holder, world champion and Olympic champion in the 400 metres. He is also the first person in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100 metres, 20 seconds for 200 metres, and 44 seconds for 400 metres.
Van Niekerk was the silver medallist in the 400m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and took bronze in the 4×400 metres relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade. He also represented South Africa at the 2013 and the 2015 Athletics World Championships. At the 2015 World Championships, he won the gold medal in the 400 metres.
In the 2016 Olympic Games Men’s 400m, he won the gold medal with a World Record time of 43.03 seconds (reaction time 0.181 s) aged 24 years and 30 days, beating the time of 43.18 seconds set by Michael Johnson during the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville, Spain.
Van Niekerk was born in Cape Town. He attended Bellville Primary and Grey College before going on to study marketing at University of the Free State. He made his international debut at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics, where he placed fourth in the 200 m with a personal best time of 21.02 seconds. He also ran in the 4×100 metres relay heats with the national team, alongside Gideon Trotter. His senior breakthrough came at the age of eighteen at the 2011 South African Athletics Championships when he won the 200 m title in a new personal best of 20.57 seconds. He competed at that event at the 2011 African Junior Athletics Championships, but did not make the final. He ran sparingly in 2012, but began to show a talent for the 400 metres, setting a best of 46.43 seconds.
The 2013 season marked van Niekerk’s emergence as a 400 m runner. He won the second national title of his career over that distance at the 2013 South African Championships, winning with a sub-46-second time. He won the IAAF Meeting de Dakarbefore travelling to Europe and placing second to Olympic champion Kirani James at the Golden Spike Ostrava, improving his best time to 45.09 seconds in the process. He entered the 400 metres at the 2013 Summer Universiade and narrowly missed out on the final as the fastest non-qualifier. He managed to reach the podium and receive his first international medal in the 4×400 metres relay as the South African men took the bronze medals. His performances earned him a place in the 400m at the 2013 World Championships, where he did not progress past the heats.
A national title win in April 2014 saw van Niekerk top the world rankings with a best of 44.92 seconds – his first sub-45-second run. After a win at the FBK Games in the Netherlands he ran at the New York Diamond League race and placed second to LaShawn Merritt, but his time of 44.38 seconds was a new South African record, bettering Hendrick Mokganyetsi’s time from September 2000. A 200 m best of 20.19 seconds followed in a fourth-place finish at the Athletissima meet. He entered both sprint events at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and won his first individual senior medal over 400 m, placing behind Kirani James with a time of 44.68 seconds (his second fastest run at that point). He reached the semi-final of the 200 m, but did not repeat his success of the longer sprint.
At the 2015 IAAF World Championships, van Niekerk won gold in the 400 metres with a time of 43.48 seconds.
On March 12, 2016 he became the 107th athlete to break the 10-second barrier in the 100 metres. That made him the first individual to break 10 seconds for 100 metres, 20 seconds for 200 metres, and 44 seconds for 400 metres. Van Niekerk qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics and was the flag bearer for South Africa.
Van Niekerk won the gold medal in the 400 metres at the 2016 Summer Olympics with a world record time of 43.03 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson’s from 1999. Van Niekerk became the only man to have won the Olympic or world 400 metres from lane eight.
His coach is Ans Botha, who is known to her athletes as Tannie Ans, Afrikaans for Aunty Ans. His manager is Peet Van Zyl.
PERSONAL BEST – OUTDOOR
12 MAR 2016
|19.94||+0.6||Luzern||14 JUL 2015|
|300 Metres||31.03||Kingston (NS), JAM|
11 JUN 2016
|43.03||Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico)||14 AUG 2016|
|2010||World Junior Championships||Moncton||200 m||4th|
|World Championships||Moscow||400 m||Battery|
|Commonwealth Games||Glasgow||200 m||Semifinal||20″69|
|African Championships||Marrakech||400 m||Silver|
|World Championships||Beijing||400 m||Gold||43″48|
|2016||African Championships||Durban||200 m||Gold|
|XXXI Olympic Games||Rio de Janeiro||400 m||Gold|
2014, 4th in Continental Cup (Marrakech), 400 m – 45″27
2014, Gold in Continental Cup (Marrakech), 4×400 – 3’00″02