Sun Dec 04 05:57:18 SAST 2016

Peers tip Wayde for the iaaf award

By Daniel Mothowagae | 2016-12-02 08:56:18.0 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Wayde van Niekerk's track and field peers are backing the 400m superstar to break SA's 13-year drought and run away with the IAAF Athlete of the Year award tonight.

The 24-year-old is up against Jamaica's legend Usain Bolt and Mo Farah of Great Britain for the world athletics governing body's Male World Athlete of the Year at a gala in Monaco, France tonight.

Bolt has claimed the title five times between 2008 and 2013, while high jumper Hestrie Cloete was the last South African to win the award in 2003.

Citing Van Niekerk's world record over the one-lap event and an unbeaten season, mid-distance ace Caster Semenya, jumper Khotso Mokoena, and sprinter Akani Simbine believe there is no one who deserves it better than their compatriot.

"I feel like he deserves it. Compared to everybody else, Wayde was the Olympics," said Simbine, a 100m finalist who lined up against Bolt at the Rio Games.

"He's [Wayde] won most of his races with PBs [personal bests] and no one can take down 400m that fast." Mokoena concurred that "the IAAF must give it to Wayde".

"This will mark a revolution for SA sports," added the 2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2014 IAAF Diamond League long jump champion.

Rio Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya said: "Wayde has the world record and he has already been voted the best athlete of the [2016] Olympics. He deserves the IAAF award too."

 

Van Niekerk's 43.03 seconds run in the 400m final at the Rio Games in August obliterated Michael Johnson's 17-year-old world record, a blitz that ended the Americans monopoly over the 400m since the South African also ran away with the world title last year.

The University of Free State marketing student has had an incredible season, that took off in March when his 9.98 seconds in 100m at the provincial championships ran him into the world athletics annals.

The result made him the first man in history to record sub-10, -20, -44 times in 100m, 200m and 400m.

Athletics SA (ASA) president Aleck Skhosana, who will be among the guests tonight, said the IAAF award would complete a good year for ASA on the international stage.

Meanwhile, Van Niekerk described the award as massive and that he was "quite excited but I leave everything in God's hands".

The Cape Town-born athlete swept the boards at the SA Sport Awards last Sunday.


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