by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa’s Olympic runner and world record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, is making the most of his improbable feat in Brazil four years ago to inspire compatriots to overcome hardship.
The inspiration comes as the country faces the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and as he recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained in 2017.
Van Niekerk is driving a brand campaign, titled #Lane8, centred on his historic victory at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, where he broke a 17-year-old world record in the 400 metre sprint, from the eighth lane.
His historic win in the final at the 2016 Olympic Games, not only broke a world record that had stood for 17 years.
It also marked the first time that an athlete had won an Olympic race starting from the eighth lane.
“I believe that anyone can be a champion of their own progress,” van Niekerk explained.
“No matter your background, history or current circumstance, if you can bravely adopt a fearlessly optimistic belief, your purpose and will to progress is unstoppable. We are not defined by our challenges but by how we rise above it to succeed,” the athlete added.
The 28-year-old is acknowledged as one of the most inspirational South Africans of his generation and a home-grown world champion.
He was the first athlete to run the 100 metres in less than 10 seconds, the 200 metres in under 20 seconds and 400 metres in under 44 seconds.
Van Niekerk is running the new campaign alongside a top motoring company.
It will premiere on Friday (tomorrow).
The Cape Town-born star has spent a long period in rehabilitation before returning to competitive running this year, with an eye on next year’s Olympic Games in Japan.
– CAJ News