Wayde van Niekerk – “Jesus did it!”

The 2016 Olympic 400 metres Champion Wayde van Niekerk is the fastest 400 metre runner in history. He won the Rio Olympics 400 metres gold and also smashed Michael Johnson’s 17 year old world record in the process. Sadly he had to pull out of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to injury.

The South African sprinter competes in the 200 metre and 400 metre events and has run the world best times in both events. His victory in Rio also made him the current 400 metre world record holder, world champion, and Olympic record holder. He is also the first person in history to have run the fastest ‘trio’ of events having run under 10 seconds for 100 metres, under 20 seconds for 200 metres and under 44 seconds for the 400 metres.

Van Niekerk was the silver medallist in the 400 metres at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He took the bronze medal in the 400 metre relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade and represented South Africa at the 2013 and 2015 World Athletics Championships, winning the gold medal in the 400 metres in 2015.

Jesus did it!

But it came as quite a surprise to many when Wayde celebrated his 2016 Olympic win with the words, “Jesus did it!

In the Olympic final, Van Niekerk blew away his rivals 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 400 metres champion and former record-holder Michael Johnson, who called the blistering win a “massacre“. The fact that Wayde still holds the world record and Olympic record so many years later shows how strong his time was. He said,

I 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.”


Wade Van Niekerk was tipped as a likely replacement for sprinter Usain Bolt, who retired in 2017. Bolt also openly declares his Christian faith. Unfortunately Van Neikerk has been plagued with a recurring knee injury which caused him to lose out in the 2021 Olympic final. His last major medals were in the 2017 World Championships in London where he won Gold in the 400 metres and Silver in the 200 metres.

But Wade’s life is more than athletics. As a Christian, he sees himself as an ambassador for his Christian faith.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Is this a coincidence or is God saying something to the world through the disproportionately high number of top athletes who are also committed Christians?

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 many young men and women who are at the top of the highly publicised world of modern athletics.

Wayde is vocal about his beliefs and makes it very clear that he believes God is in control of his life. 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 viewed 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.

2022 Comeback

Despite a ‘lost’ five year period from 2017, due to the serious knee injury, Van Niekerk made an amazing comeback at the close of the 2022 season. Although he had only run one major competitive race earlier in the year, the greatest athlete South Africa has ever produced stunned the watching athletics fans with an outstanding run at the Diamond League final meeting in Zurich. Wade ran arguably the best 400 metre run of the year, winning in a time of 44.39 seconds and beating his previous best time of the year of 44.58 and showing the world that he was not finished yet.


Best Times:

100 metres: 9.94 seconds (2017)

200 metres: 19.84 seconds (2017)

300 metres: 30.81 seconds (2017) World’s Best Time (unofficial World Record)

400 metres: 43.03 seconds (2016) Official World Record


Olympic Games:

2016 Rio de Janeiro 400 metres GOLD

World championships:

2015 Beijing 400 metres GOLD

2017 London 400 metres GOLD

2017 London 200 metres SILVER

African Championships:

2016 Durban 200 metres GOLD

2016 Durban 4×400 metres relay GOLD

2014 Marrakesh 400 metres SILVER

Commonwealth Games:

2014 Glasgow 400 metres SILVER


2013 Kazan 400 metres BRONZE, 4×400 metres relay SILVER

Continental Cup:

2014 Marrakesh 4×400 metres relay GOLD


Story by Charles Gardner and Ralph Burden.




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