Wayde van Niekerk voted 'South African of the Year'

2016-09-25 10:16
Wayde Van Niekerk competes in the men's 400m final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro. (Natacha Pisarenko, AP)

Wayde Van Niekerk competes in the men's 400m final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro. (Natacha Pisarenko, AP)

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WATCH: Grateful I can tick world record off my list - Van Niekerk

2016-08-16 13:31

Watch Wayde van Niekerk reflect on Sunday's gold-medal record-breaking 400m dash. WATCH

Cape Town - Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk was voted "South African of the Year" in a Twitter poll organised by Jan "Braai" Scannell to mark Heritage Day.

More than 40 000 voters took part and could choose between Van Niekerk, fellow gold medallist Caster Semenya, DJ Black Coffee and soprano Pretty Yende.

"In the end, Van Niekerk's superb run from lane eight in the Olympic 400m final sealed the deal; not only did he claim South Africa's first gold medal at the Rio Games (Semenya claimed the second), but his time of 43.03 seconds also broke the 400m world record set in 1999," a statement from Scannell said.

"It's been an outstanding two years for the popular yet humble Olympian. In 2015 he announced himself on the world stage by winning gold in the 400m final at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing."

Scannel pointed out that earlier in 2016, Van Niekerk broke the 10-second barrier in the 100 metres, which made him the first individual to break 10 seconds for 100 metres, 20 seconds for 200 metres and 44 seconds for 400 metres.

"His performance in Rio then catapulted Van Niekerk to super stardom.

"The South African of the Year is someone who, with a phenomenal achievement, made you extremely proud to be South African."

Scannell came up with the idea for National Braai Day as a way of marking Heritage Day, and said the South African of the Year project was not done for profit, but to enhance Heritage Day celebrations.

Read more on:    wayde van niekerk  |  good news  |  olympics 2016

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