Record-breaking sprinter Wayde van Niekerk yesterday took time out of his busy schedule to give back to a worthy cause.
The 400 metre world champion handed over a cheque for R500 000 to the Newborns Trust at Groote Schuur Hospital.
And no, the blitsige ou from Kraaifontein didn’t suddenly make a bag of cash.
Wayde was named Sportsmen of the Year at the SA Sports Awards last year, and as part of his prize, he could donate half a million bucks to a charity of his choice.
This after he became the only man in the world to run a sub-10 second 100m, sub-20 second 200m and sub-43 second 400m.
The 23-year-old says he chose the neonatal ward because he himself was a premature baby, and it’s a cause that’s very dear to his mother, Odessa Swarts.
He was born in Tygerberg Hospital, but was cared for in Groote Schuur Hospital – and weighed 900 grams at birth.
“This is something close to my mother’s heart. She told me the story about what she went through when I was born, the way everyone had to look after me. She also told me how she woke up every day, not knowing whether I would be alive or not. Thus, contributing to this cause is my way of saying thank you. This has got to do with helping others,” Wayde said.
Groote Schuur CEO Dr. Bhavna Patel says the monies will be used to restructure the neonatal ward, and to purchase equipment and technology used to care for premature babies.
“The unit accommodates up to 75 babies but anytime we receive 100-120 babies depending on the cases. We are so grateful to Wayde for his contribution, this will help with the restructuring and upgrading of equipment,” says Dr Patel.
Wayde was also officially introduced as the new face of T-Systems South Africa, a multinational computer technology company.
An official from T-Systems told Daily Voice skelmpies Wayde was chosen over world number one Usain Bolt (wink wink).
Wayde is also busy establishing the Wayde van Niekerk Foundation, which is aimed at helping young, talented South Africans achieve their potential.
The runner, who will be representing South Africa at the Rio Olympics in Brazil in August, leaves for Europe next month to start training.
He says: “Records are not my goal, improving myself is. |I do hope to get a few medals, though. I see what I have as a blessing and my greatest motivators are my family and friends, but also everyone backing me.”