A new breed of South African athlete

Does the name Wayde van Niekerk ring a bell No one knows what to download? It should! He’s one of the new generation of South African athletes that are tearing up the track at the IAAF World Championships, currently being held in Beijing. But who is this guy? Let’s find out.

Van Niekerk, the new sprint sensation, was born in 1992 in Kraaifontein. The 23-year-old resides now resides in Bloemfontein and is currently studying a marketing degree at the University of Free State…when not tearing up the sprint tracks around the world, that is!

Even though he trains tirelessly and is a clearly gifted runner, Van Niekerk credits his family, friends and coach as the reasons for his success. “My family, the UFS, my coach, my agent and the management team have overcome obstacles and challenges so that I don’t have to, and have taken so much weight off me,” he said.

What you may not know about are the sacrifices that were made for Wayde to pursue his dream to become a champion athlete.

Wayde’s mother, Odessa, was also an a talented athlete, but she was not allowed to represent her country because of the international sports boycott put on South Africa during the time of Apartheid. Odessa didn’t let this stop her from competing: she joined the South African Council on Sports (SACOS), a non-racial sports organisation.

So, even though she was never able to participate internationally, Odessa has passed on her wisdom and determination to her son, not to mention those speed genes! Wayde has gone on to fulfil his (and her) dream of winning on the international stage.

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So, even though she was never able to participate internationally, she passed on her wisdom and determination to her son, who has now fulfilled his (and her) dream of winning on the international stage.

A professional athlete needs to be tough physically, but also mentally and Van Niekerk certainly has a good head on his shoulders and says that it’s because of his relationship with his fellow SA athletes. He says that there is no rivalry within the team, only respect.

Van Niekerk is part of a new breed of South African athletes who are down-to-earth, respectful and are focused on achieving their goals. There is no doubt that with these types of athletes, South Africa has a strong grip on the competition – watch out Usain Bolt, we’re right behind you!

Do you think that you’ve got what it takes to follow in Wayde’s footsteps? Well, first things, first, there’s much more to running than you might think and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s very easy to injure yourself.

Don’t worry, Hello Doctor is here to help. Take a break and watch The Hello Doctor TV Show’s episode on The Importance of Running Safely.