Van Niekerk inspires Boks

Allister Coetzee says the Springboks will draw inspiration from the gold-medal performance of Wayde van Niekerk at the Olympics, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Nelspruit.

Van Niekerk stunned the sports world when he stormed to a world-record win in the 400m event to claim South Africa’s first gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

Praise and plaudits have poured in from all over since the athlete’s historic feat in the early hours of Monday morning, and there was evidence that Van Niekerk fever had also spread to the Bok hotel in Nelspruit.

The Boks will take on Argentina in their first Rugby Championship Test on Saturday, and Coetzee suggested Van Niekerk’s success once again illustrated the unifying power of sport.

‘As the Springboks, we don’t just live in our own bubble, we should draw confidence [from Van Niekerk’s achievement] and be proud of the fact that a South African dominated an event such as that at the Olympics.

‘Players and teams that represent South Africa need to be a sign and symbol of excellence, and he has proved that. We have spoken of what Wayde was able to do, and it’s really great to wake up to that sort of news and talk about it around the breakfast table. On behalf of the Springboks, we’d really like to congratulate him on a fantastic achievement.

Coetzee said he had also taken note of the fact that Van Niekerk was coached by 74-year-old Ans Botha, who has been described as the woman behind his success.

‘I thought that was really interesting,’ Coetzee smiled. ‘It shows the diversity of our country to have an older woman coaching a young guy like that. It’s a great story.’

Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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