Last week, hardly anyone even knew his name, but on Wednesday South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk had the rainbow nation beaming with pride when he earned his first world championship title and became the fourth fastest man in the 400m sprint. FIRDAUS KHAN introduces a few more athletes you need to watch out for.
1. Wayde van Niekerk
Making the biggest waves this week, 23-year-old sprinting sensation Wayde Van Niekerk won the 400m men’s final at the IAAF World Championship in Beijing this week. It may seem that he appeared like a bolt out of the blue but that’s not really the case. Van Niekerk won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last year and is also the first African runner to run the 400m race in under 44 seconds.
Watch Wayde’s win here:
2. Anaso Jobodwana
South Africa hadn’t quite recovered from Van Niekerk’s win when 23-year-old Eastern Cape sprinter Anaso Jobodwana finished just after the world’s best, Usain Bolt, in the IAAF’s World Championship 200m semi-finals in Beijing. Jobodwana went on to win bronze in Thursday’s final, breaking Van Niekerk’s previous South African record with a finish in 19.87 seconds.
Watch Anaso’s post-race interview here:
3. Sunette Viljoen
SA javelin-thrower Sunette Viljoen is another athlete to keep an eye on. Viljoen, who won a bronze medal at the world championships back in 2011, went into the Beijing championships this year as the leader in her field after a throw of 66.62m in Melbourne in March. Last year Viljoen placed second at the Commonwealth Games and won the African Championships with a 65.32m throw. On Sunday, Sunette took the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships with a throw of 65.79m.
Sunette tweeted this after winning the bronze medal on Sunday:
Overwhelmed, blessed, content! Soo close!! I wanted to make SA proud and thank each and everyone for their support!! pic.twitter.com/h46DRbhll7
— Sunette Viljoen (@Sunette_Viljoen) August 30, 2015
4. Khotso Mokoena
Heidelburg’s very own long-jump and triple-jump athlete also shows promise for SA. Although he recorded an unfortunate two-no-jumps last week, Khotso Mokoena made a superb comeback on Wednesday, advancing to the triple jump final, as one of the 12 best performers during the qualification rounds.
5. Wenda Nel
Competing in IAAF Championships since 2005, hurdle athlete Wenda Nel has had her fair share of successes. While her seventh place finish on Tuesday may not have earned her a medal, we still believe she has a great deal of potential and enthusiasm to drive her forward.