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Van Niekerk thanks 74-year-old coach

2016-08-15 07:30
Wayde van Niekerk (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - Wayde van Niekerk is the new 400m world record holder, and the woman behind his success is 74-year-old Ans Botha. 

A former athlete herself, Botha has been coaching Van Niekerk since 2012. 

It is not the most conventional of set-ups, but it clearly works. 

Van Niekerk, who smashed Michael Johnson's 17-year-old world record on Sunday night (Monday morning, SA time) on his way to Team South Africa's first gold medal of Rio 2016, was full of praise for his mentor after his historic race.

"She's an amazing woman," said Van Niekerk.

"She's played a huge role in where I am today. She's really kept me very disciplined and very focused on the goal and where I need to be.

"I can go out on to the track and reach every limit and know that everything is possible.

"I'm just grateful that I can trust in her work and I think it speaks for itself.

"What she's achieved as a coach ... I'm just grateful to be a part of the history that she has made as a coach and just grateful to be where I am today."

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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