Wayde van Niekerk made history when he broke the world record in the 400m Olympics final at Rio 2016, and he has one person in particular to thank – his 74-year-old coach Anna Botha. The South African athlete has been training with Anna for the last four years, and has seen his times improve massively as a result.
"She's really kept me very disciplined on the goal and where I need to be," Wayde told Fox News following his win. "I'm really grateful I can go on the track and say my coach has pushed me to reach every level and believe anything is possible."
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Wayde Van Niekerk won the gold medal in the 400m Olympics event
He continued: "She's an amazing woman. She's played a huge role in what I am today."
Wayde, a former sprinter and long jumper, began working with Anna after the last Olympics cycle in 2012 when he started studying at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
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Anna has been the head coach of track and field there for over 25 years, and used her expertise to switch Wayde's focus from the 200m to 400m event. Not only did this protect him from persistent injuries, but it also helped him to drop his time from 45.09 seconds in 2013 to a world record 43.03 seconds at the weekend.
Wayde's 74-year-old coach Anna Botha was supporting him in the crowd
The great-grandmother has said her coaching philosophy is all about hard work and discipline with some laughter along the way.
"You are never too old to learn," Anna told IAAF about her coaching practices, adding: "I dearly love all my athletes but it's about being strict.
"We can laugh, but when we have to work hard, we work hard."