By Nico Bougas, Special to ASSIST News Service
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (ANS – August 17, 2016) — Track star Wayde van Niekerk became an overnight sensation in his native South Africa when he earned a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio. Running in the 400 meters race, he shattered Michael Johnson’s 17-year old world record clocking a time of 43.03 seconds and beating the old mark by nearly half a second.
He is also the first person in history to run faster than 10 seconds for 100 meters, 20 seconds for 200 meters and 44 seconds for 400 meters. Van Niekerk was the silver medalist in the 400 meters at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and took bronze in the 4×400 meters relay at the 2013 Summer Universiade.
He also represented South Africa at the 2013 and the 2015 Athletics World Championships. At the 2015 World Championships, he won the gold medal in the 400 meters. He was quick to give glory to God after his record breaking achievements.
He was prematurely born at 29 weeks weighing little over 2 pounds. There were grave doubts that he would survive, let alone become a successful athlete. He spent the first few weeks of his life in an incubator in the neonatal unit at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
He returned there in May with a $45,000 donation to help expand the unit. He said: “From what my mother tells me it was apparently a very difficult and emotional journey to have a premature baby.
“There were days where she was not sure whether I was going to make it to the next day. That’s how sick I was,” he recalled.
Now, Wayde has become an instant celebrity in South Africa. But he continues to give all glory to God. After the race he told reporters, “I lunged for the finishing tape and immediately afterwards got down on my knees and thanked God and then my family for their support.”
Asked about his winning strategy he declared his gratitude to God and the people of South Africa.
Following his victory he Tweeted a photo of himself kneeling on the track with an inscription, “Jesus did it” and after the race he tweeted his thanks with the words “God is power.”
Van Niekerk is of course not the only Olympic athlete to give glory to God for his achievement. The world fastest man alive, Jamaican, Usain Bolt, who won the 100 and 200 titles at the Olympics also gave glory to God.
Spectators can witness Bolt uttering a silent prayer and pointing Heavenwards before and after every race. He also took to Twitter to thank God after making history at the 2012 Beijing Olympics.
“I thank God for everything that He has done and without Him this would not have been possible,” he tweeted.
Photo captions: 1) Wayde van Niekerk thanks God for his victory. 2) A picture that Wayde van Niekerk posted on Twitter. 3) Usain Bolt also thanks God for his victory. 4) Nico Bougas.
About the writer: Nico Bougas is the International Development Director for Hellenic Ministries. He has a master’s degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author of five books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and currently serves as Consulting Editor for JOY Magazine and a Trustee for Radio CCFM and was one of the founders of Sports Outreach Africa. He previously served on the national executive of the SA Association of Evangelists and as a Trustee for the Bible Institute of South Africa and on the advisory board for the South African Theological Seminary and on the executive of The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (SA). For further, information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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