South African Wayde Van Niekerk Wins Gold, Breaks World Record 400 Meters

South African Wayde Van Niekerk Wins Gold, Breaks World Record 400 Meters

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk won South Africa’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympics on Sunday night in the mens 400 meter final with a time of 43.03 seconds, The South African reported.

Van Niekerk looked steady in his heats. From the start, it looked like this was going to be a good race for South Africa.

One of the most hyped races of the Olympic Games lived up to its billing, SB Nation reported. Van Niekerk obliterated Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18 seconds and the Olympic record of 43.49 from 1996.

The South African is also the first man to win the Olympic gold from Lane 8.

Photo: sbnation.com
Photo: sbnation.com

The talented van Niekerk, 25, first rose to prominence in 2011, winning the 200 meter title with a personal best of 20.57 seconds at the South African Athletics Championships. In 2014, he won silver at the Commonwealth Games.

A year later, he became the first athlete ever to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, 200 meters in under 20 seconds, and 400 meters in under 44 seconds.

Kirani James of Grenada won silver at 43.76 seconds and LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. took bronze at 43.85 seconds.

So what’s a gold medal worth, besides fame and your name in the history books?

Top athletes in the most popular sports can rack up millions through endorsements, sponsorships and paid appearances. Swimmer Michael Phelps has a reported net worth of $55 million, according to Business Tech.

Online statistics portal Statista rounded up the prize money being given out by 12 countries to their winning athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio in US dollars, Market Watch reported.

Some countries, including the U.K., don’t offer cash bonuses to medalists.

South Africa will pay an estimated $36,000 for a gold medal — that’s less than the estimated $25,000 paid by the U.S.