Die Kaap was Hollands yesterday as Wayde van Niekerk and his fellow Olympians were given a hero’s welcome in Cape Town.
Capetonians came out in their hundreds to personally congratulate the record-breaking 400m champion and fellow medallists who did the country proud during the Rio Games in August.
The sport stars were paraded through the city on an open-top bus, with people lining the streets to wave and cheer at them.
Mense went bos when they got off at the Grand Parade in front of City Hall for a meet and greet.
Separated by a flimsy fence, Wayde was grabbed and hugged and kissed by fans, demanding selfies and autographs from the grinning Kraaifontein klong.
Ulna Daniels, 65, and her friend Ella Wyngaard, 70, say they left their Atlantis homes at 6am yesterday morning to see Wayde.
“I came all the way to share in the joy of him winning a gold medal. We were a bit stressed that our MyCiti bus was going to be late, but were on time,” says Ulna.
Wayde was joined by Paralympic gold medallist long jumper Hilton Langenhoven, blind sprinter Jonathan Ntutu , Paralympic 400m star Anrune Liebenberg, disabled 100m sprinter Fanie van der Merwe, cyclist Roxanne Burns and sailor Roger Hudson.
Ivan Breda, 46, from Kensington says he came to see Hilton.
“Because with all his achievements, he is giving people with disabilities hope,” says Ivan, who is able-bodied.
They then left for the Green Point Athletics Track, where Mayor Patricia De Lille said the stadium would be renamed after Wayde.
“We are so proud of South Africans, that we can produce one of the best athletes in the world, Wayde van Niekerk,” she told the cheering crowd.
“And because of this, we are now going to start the process of renaming the Green Point Cape Town Athletics Track to the Wayde van Niekerk Athletics track.”
De Lille said the proposal for the name change will be put through the mandatory public participation process, before being sent to the council for approval.
If approved, the track will be renamed as early as February.
Wayde also addressed the crowd, and asked how he felt about the name-change proposal, the humble star said: “It’s really been an honour to accept the fact that I’ll be having a stadium named after me.
“I am so grateful to everyone that came up with the proposal. The stadium will represent more than myself, this is my whole family’s legacy that I am representing.”
His proud mom Odessa Swarts says renaming the track will motivate kids on the Cape Flats.
“Drugs and the crime rate is so high in Cape Town, and something like this will be motivation to a youngster to work harder and try to achieve what Wayde has achieved.”
Wayde posed for selfies with fans before he and his girlfriend Chesney Campbell rushed to the airport to catch a flight back home to Bloemfontein.