#30DaysofYouth – Wayde van Niekerk

[Source: Tholakele Mnganga (Drum) | Channel24.co.za | Original Article]


Wayde van Niekerk has shared his life story with the launch of his documentary, 43:03: The Wayde van Niekerk Story, which charts the rise of one of athletics’ most exciting stars.

Other high-profile athletes, including Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya and Proteas star JP Duminy, showed up to support the man who holds the world record in the 400m race at the Johannesburg premiere of the doccie on Thursday night at Montecasino.

The title, 43:03, is the world record time Wayde set at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in his trailblazing 400m sprint. His sponsor, T-Systems, commissioned the production of the documentary which Wayde’s journey from a shy schoolboy to a global track star.

Fans are treated to interviews and commentary from family and friends, who admit they’re still in awe of Wayde’s achievements.

His mom, Odessa Swarts, reveals early on that Wayde was born a fighter as he was put in intensive care for the first 24 hours of his life due to jaundice.

That theme of overcoming adversity continues throughout the movie as Wayde himself reveals he had to conquer various challenges to find the success he currently enjoys.

Having taken up running when he was just eight, Wayde dominated the scene in the Western Cape but gave it up at 12 to focus on just being a normal kid – much to the disappointment of his mom and stepdad, Steven Swarts.

Odessa shares in the movie that despite her wanting to talk her son out of his decision, it was Steven who encouraged her to let him make his own choices when it comes to wanting to take up the sport professionally.

Wayde would eventually inform his parents when he was 17 that running was in fact what he wanted to do, and the family stepped up to make his dream a reality.

Yet injuries nearly hampered Wayde’s dreams of excelling in the 100m and 200m and it wasn’t until he met coach Ans Botha that his fortunes changed.

With Ans’ appointment, and strict training programme, he changed his distance to the 400m, which allowed him to develop his skill and pushed him to new levels.

Throughout the movie, Wayde pays tribute to “Tannie Ans”, who he credits for turning around his fortunes on the track.

Wayde adds that the key to his relationship, and their success, is the mutual respect they both have and that essentially propelled him to Olympic success as he took in the 400m – smashing Michael Johnson’s 17-year record.

Along with hearing from Wayde and his family members, fellow track stars Usain Bolt, Akani Simbine and Caster Semenya pay tribute to the shy sprinter.

As South Africa’s most successful 400m athlete, Wayde has now turned his attention to dominating in the 200m too.

Currently, Wayde is recovering from a knee injury suffered during a touch rugby game last year, yet he’s confident he’ll come back stronger and continue to break records.

At the premiere, Wayde spoke on the importance of him sharing his life story with the public, saying, “I’m hoping my story can be inspiration for kids who go through difficulties, so they can continue on in the search for their dreams. I wanted to tell my story so I could inspire more South Africans.”

He also hopes that by telling his story, it will open doors for other SA athletes to be comfortable documenting their journeys.

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