INTERVIEW: Wayde van Niekerk like you’ve never seen him before
SA Olympic Champion – Wayde Van Niekerk lays himself bare in this tell-all documentary about his journey as SA’s most popular sprinter.
Ever since he won a gold medal in the 400 metres at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Wayde has solidified himself as one of the greatest athletes of our generation.
One thing most of us know about Wayde is that he’s naturally quiet and reserved, so we wondered how difficult it was for him to be in the spotlight while the documentary was being made.
“To be honest, it was challenging at first – just warming up to telling my story in front of the camera and opening myself up in a way that I never thought I would was a bit of a challenge. But, although there was a lot going on, at the same time, there was a good team around me that tried to make sure that I remained comfortable and that I was happy during the entire process.
“I’m grateful that there were times where they pushed me, but there were times where they were very lenient and considerate. So yeah, it was challenging, but it was also a process that I’m thankful for.”
“I kept on asking myself what about me is inspiring? Can I even inspire other people?”
When the documentary premiered, Wayde watched it with family, friends and those who helped kick-start his career. While watching his story unfold, Wayde admits that he found himself wondering whether he was worthy of such an honour.
“I must admit that at first, I was questioning myself in a lot. I kept on asking myself what about me is inspiring? Can I even inspire other people? How different is my story compared to other great sportspeople out there? But watching the documentary and listening to people and looking at the various aspects and angles of my story, revealed to me highlights and moments that inspire me still today.
“The documentary has encouraged me to want to do better and achieve greater things because that one achievement of mine brought so much positivity, not only to my family but to the entire country as well. So now I’m kind of addicted to wanting to achieve great things continuously and to unite the country more.”
Those featured in Wayde’s documentary include the likes of Usain Bolt and Caster Semenya. Both expressed their admiration of and respect for Wayde, and those comments made him realise the great friendship he has in both athletes.
“It was flattering to hear positive things being said about me by such close friends. These are athletes that I respect not just on the track but off the track as well, especially considering what they stand for and who they are in the sports world. It’s amazing to be ranked amongst such talented athletes, and it’s crazy to know that I have such a strong support structure. I don’t take their friendship and support lightly at all.”
Wayde’s mother, who was also a sprinter, has played a pivotal role in his career as well and we couldn’t help but wonder if his dream of being an athlete stemmed from her.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I followed in her footsteps, but I think her talent and love for the sport played a massive role in making it easier for me to have the courage to become an athlete.
“In general, I’ve always been an active person and took part in a lot of sports activities, but I’d like to believe that my performance in track and field and the opportunities given to me made my success in sports more of a reality. ”
Wayde has spent a lot of time away from his home in the Mother City, and his constant travels have made him fonder of Cape Town. He says he hopes to contribute more of himself to the city and its people.
“My roots are in Cape Town. while travelling you do miss it a lot, but life is life, and you ultimately need to do what needs to be done in order to invest in yourself. I’d love to one day give back to Cape Town and, who knows, maybe even get myself a place there and spend more time in the city. I continuously receive more love and support in Cape Town than anywhere else, and it’s something I’ll always cherish. The people of Cape Town will always have a special place in my heart.”
Watch The Wayde van Niekerk Story now on Showmax.