Wayde Van Niekerk Nominated For Laureus Breakthrough Of The Year

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

South Africa’s world 400m champion sprinter Wayde van Niekerk is in line for another global honour at the Laureus World Sports Awards, after he was listed among the nominees for Breakthrough of the Year.

Van Niekerk, who set a new world record of 43.03 seconds to win 400m gold at last year’s Rio Olympic Games, was nominated alongside Ethiopian distance runner Almaz Ayana, German Formula One driver Nico Rosberg, the Fiji national rugby sevens team, the Iceland national football side and Leicester City Football Club.

At the Olympics he took 0.15 off the 17-year-old global best previously held by American great Michael Johnson, further establishing his place among the fastest men in the world.

The Team South Africa Olympic flag bearer became the first man to win Olympic gold from lane 8, beating Kirani James of Grenada and American LaShawn Merritt.

Van Niekerk honoured in Breakthrough of the Year nomination

The 24-year-old South African responded to the nomination via his official Twitter handle, saying: “Honored to be nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards. Thank you @LaureusSport. I am humbled by the recognition. #Laureus17.”

Addressing to the nomination, Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana congratulated the young athletics star on yet another milestone of recognition after a hugely positive year.

“Congratulations to Wayde on receiving further recognition for his superb 2016 season,” said Skhosana, according to AthleticsSouthAfrica.

“Having already been named SA Sports Star of the Year and Anoc Male Athlete of the Rio Games, this nomination again highlights how significant his achievements were last year.

“We are tremendously proud of him and his coach Anna Botha, and we wish Wayde all the best ahead of the Laureus ceremony.”

In November Van Niekerk received special recognition from the Association of National Olympic Committees (Anoc) for his spectacular performance at the Rio Olympic Games in August last year.

He was announced as the Best Male Athlete of the Games at the Anoc Awards Ceremony in Doha, Qatar. The eventual winners of the various Laureus awards, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed in Monaco on February 14.

The Laureus World Sports Awards are held annually to celebrate outstanding sports men and women performers the previous calendar year.