Having established his place as the nation’s top track and field athlete, Wayde van Niekerk was recognised for his achievements this season at the SA Sport Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday night, retaining his place as the country’s most prolific and popular sportsman in all codes.
Van Niekerk, who received the prestigious Sports Star of the Year accolade for the second year in a row, also added the People’s Choice, Sportsman of the Year, International Achievement and Shield of Jove gongs, as he was rewarded for a spectacular season which included his world record-breaking performance at the Rio Olympics.
In addition, his coach Ans Botha was acknowledged for her efforts by being recognised as Coach of the Year.
“This is a tremendous honour, and to be acknowledged by my compatriots in this way once again makes me truly proud to be South African,” Van Niekerk said.
“To know that I have so much support from my fellow South Africans gives me the confidence and courage to keep working hard to make the nation proud.”
The 24-year-old sprinter started his 2016 campaign with a stunning victory over 100m at the Free State Provincial Championships in Bloemfontein, clocking 9.98 seconds to secure a unique record as the only man to have run under 10 seconds (100m), 20 seconds (200m) and 44 seconds (400m) in his career.
He went on to flaunt his versatility by winning the 200m title at the African Championships in Durban and forming part of the SA men’s 4x100m relay team who won gold.
In Rio in August, he produced what was later voted by International Olympic Committee members as the performance of the Games, winning 400m gold from lane eight and clocking 43.03 to shatter the 17-year-old world record held by American Michael Johnson.
“Everything this season was geared towards the Olympics, so to achieve my goals in Rio and break a record held by someone who is held in such high esteem was an incredible feeling,” Van Niekerk said.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support – my coach Ans Botha, my family and my fans – for standing behind me and motivating me throughout the year.”
Another experienced track star and In-Site client, sprinter Ilse Hayes, was named Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability at the awards ceremony after earning two silver medals at the Rio Paralympics.