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Wayde flies family to Rio, worth every cent

2016-08-16 07:22
Wayde van Niekerk (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - When Wayde van Niekerk cleaned up at last year's South African Sports Awards, he made the decision that he was going to use his winnings to fly his family over to the 2016 Olympic Games. 

Van Niekerk won SA Sportsman of the Year as well as the People's Choice award - banking R500 000. 

In the beginning it was supposed to be eight family members joining him in Rio, but that number had risen to 10 by the time the Games started. 

It is a decision that he will never regret after setting a new world record and winning gold in the 400m on Sunday night (Monday morning, SA time). 

After looking skywards in disbelief, Van Niekerk was soon off to his family where he was embraced by mom Odessa as the Olympic Stadium erupted. 

"It means the world to me. This is way beyond just my journey, this is our journey … my family, my friends, my coach," Van Niekerk said on Monday.

"They’ve all played a huge role in where I am today and I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity to share this moment with them."

After countless media interviews, Van Niekerk was eventually able to spend some time with his family in the early hours of Monday morning. 

"The excitement was too high," he said.

"I’m a very quiet and passive person and they just took over. I just sat back on the couch and listened to all the stories that they have been experiencing in Rio.

"I have so many characters in my family … it was a reality show last night listening to everyone’s stories and all the joked that have been going on around me."

Van Niekerk added that what he had achieved still hadn't completely sunk in.

"I’m really just appreciating the moment and living it as it comes," he said.

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