Olympic 400m Champion Wayde van Niekerk won the 2016 Rio 400 metres gold and also smashed Michael Johnson’s 17 year old world record in the process.
The young South African sprinter competes in the 200 and 400 metres events. His victory in Rio has made him the current 400m world record holder, world champion and Olympic champion. He is also the first person in history to have run faster than 10 seconds for 100 metres, 20 seconds for 200 metres and 44 seconds for the 400 metres.
Van Niekerk was the silver medallist in the 400m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He took the bronze medal in the 400m relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade and represented South Africa at the 2013 and 2015 World Athletics Championships, winning the gold medal in the 400m in 2015.
But it came as quite a surprise to many when Wayde celebrated his 2016 Olympic win with the words, “Jesus did it!”
Van Niekerk blew away his rivals away with a time of 43.03 seconds, leaving the rest of the world’s top 400m athletes in his wake as he sprinted for the finish in a race which he had led from the start. The young South African was especially praised by legendary 400m campion and former record-holder Johnson, who called the blistering win a “massacre“.
“I have dreamed of this since I was a little kid. The only thing I can do now is to give God praise. I went on my knees each and every day and I told the lord to take care of me and look after my every step. I asked the Lord to carry me through the race and I am really just blessed for this opportunity.”
A clearly passionate Christian, Wayde had previously told the media,
“[for]Everything that comes my way I thank the Lord. I leave every race and every step I take in his hands. I trust him in every movement I do.”
The young athlete has been tipped as a likey replacement for sprinter Usain Bolt, who is planning to retire shortly. Bolt is also a devout Christian.
So is this a coincidence or is God saying something to the world through these young athletes?
The world has become increasingly cynical about people with faith, but is seems that Christian celebrities and sports stars still have a major impact upon the way people think and act. If God wanted to influence the current generation to turn away from cynical secularism and back to him, then what better way than through the success of young men like Wayde van Nieherk.
Wayde is vocal about his beliefs and makes it very clear that he believes God is in control. He states that he believes he is only successful in his sport because God has given him the talent, the passion and the drive to be the a world champion.
‘Stars’ of sport, movies and music are often seen as arrogant and selfish. Those things cannot be justifiably said when speaking of Wayde van Niekerk. Whatever people may think of his beliefs, it cannot be denied that this young man is a great example to his generation by the way he lives his life.
Story by Charles Gardner