Son of Kraaifontein Wayde van Niekerk’s strides in sporting history have put him in line to receive one of the most prestigious accolades in global athletics. And his family is behind him all the way.
The Olympic gold medallist was last week confirmed as one of the top-three finalists in the men’s section of the 2016 International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Van Niekerk made headlines this year when he shattered records in the men’s 400m category at the Rio Olympics in August. He set the new world record at 43.03 seconds.
His mother and biggest supporter, Odessa Swarts, said that it was “about time” the world recognised the sacrifice her son made in achieving sporting excellence. “I have to thank South Africa for their support; this is what motivated Wayde to reach as far as he has.”
Ms Swarts said her son had worked at becoming Olympic-ready for years.
“As a mother, you are always proud. I feel that he has a big chance of coming home with the title,” she said.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was announced alongside Van Niekerk as a nominee. Great Britain’s Mo Farah was named as the third and final nominee in the same category.
Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbulala tweeted, “Congratulations to @waydedreamer for his recent shortlisting … You continue to make the country proud.”
Robin Adams, an international TV sports presenter who is from Atlantis, commented on twitter, “Our very own @waydedreamer is in line for… the award. All the best.”