When you annihilate a long-standing world record to be crowned Olympic champion, it is only logical that your country celebrates you as Sports Star of the Year.
And South Africa did just that in Bloemfontein on Sunday night, crowning local lad Wayde van Niekerk at the SA Sports Awards – the second successive such honour for the sprint star.
Van Niekerk beat fellow Rio 2016 gold medalist Caster Semenya and cricketer Kagiso Rabada to the top gong.
He also won the Sportsman of the Year award, while Semenya walked away with the Sportswoman of the Year accolade.
In Brazil at the Olympics in August, Van Niekerk stunned the world with a perfect run from lane eight to not only win 400m gold for South Africa, but to smash Michael Johnson’s long-standing record as well.
His 43.03 run slashed 0.15 seconds off the great American’s mark that had looked invincible since he set it at the World Championships in Seville way back in 1999.
And because of that, Van Niekerk also received the honour of Best Athlete Olympics.
But it was not only for his Olympic run that the 24-year-old shone brightest at the Sand du Plessis theatre.
In the year in review, Van Niekerk became the first man to run a sub-10 second 100m, sub-20 in 200m and sub-44 in the 400m.
He duly won both the 200m and 400m races at the Africa Championships in Durban.
Van Niekerk also had a fantastic season in the IAAF Diamond League to raise his status as a global icon seen by many as the logical replacement for Jamaica’s Usain Bolt as athletics’ poster boy.
LIST OF WINNERS
- Sports Star of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk
- Sportsman of the Year: Wayde van Niekerk
- Sportswoman of the Year: Caster Semenya
- Coach of the Year: Anna Botha
- Newcomer of the Year: Ntando Mahlangu
- Sportswoman of the Year with Disability: Ilse Hayes
- Sportsman of the Year with Disability: Charl du Toit
- Team of the Year: Mamelodi Sundowns
- School Team of the Year: St Benedict’s Rowing