Beijing – Don’t panic South Africa, Mzansi’s golden boy Wayde van Niekerk is alive and well.
The newly crowned 400m world champion arrived back at the team hotel shortly after midnight after he was discharged from a local hospital.
Van Niekerk was whisked away by medics straight after his brilliant performance in the one-lap race of the IAAF World Championships. The tournament’s medical team said the 23-year-old’s “vital signs were unstable, so he was taken to hospital for better check-ups and treatment”.
But the University of Free State marketing student make a good laugh about his situation that caused panic back home, especially the images that showed him being stretchered off the track.
“My mistake was to sit down and I couldn’t stand up again and before I knew it, they were busy taking me out of the track. I was just tired as a result of the normal lactic [acid] that comes with running the 400 [race], he said with a big laughter.
“I don’t think it was necessary to take me to hospital. The lactic [acid] comes with the sport and it seems I was the odd athlete out of the nine [who ran the final] who got tired. I am the only one who dies after the race.”
Van Niekerk blitzed home in new national and African record time of 43.48 seconds for the gold medal, ahead of runner-up LaShawn Merritt, who settled for silver in 43.65, and Kirani James of Grenada, who took bronze in 43.78 seconds.
The South African 400m champion said “any medal would have been a blessing” on the day.
“Just being in the final was a blessing and God gave me the big prize today. It’s quite and honour now to say it’s now mine and nobody can take it away.”
“I knew I had to do the job. Those big names have their presence when it comes to the track.
I couldn’t underestimate anyone. I might have looked very composed on the track but just lying on my bed before the race was not the best feeling ever.”