PICS: Wayde feels the love in Cape Town

Published Oct 17, 2016


Cape Town - Before Wayde van Niekerk was even born, mother Odessa Swarts was setting sprint records in the non-racial South African athletics scene at junior and then senior levels.

But she couldn’t run at the top athletics tracks such as Coetzenburg in Stellenbosch and Green Point Stadium in Cape Town due to apartheid.

So things virtually came full circle on Monday when her son and other Cape-based Olympic and Paralympic athletes were honoured by the local government with a procession from the Grand Parade through the CBD, and it ended at the new, revamped Green Point Stadium.

While it was a great pity that there were only a few hundred people present at the stadium - most of whom were family and friends - to toast the likes of Van Niekerk and Paralympic champions Hilton Langenhoven and Reinhardt Hamman, it was a memorable moment for Swarts.

“Well, we ran on the ash (cinder) track on the other side (Green Point Track)!” she told Independent Media when asked how she felt on Monday.



“As a parent that didn’t have all the opportunities, it’s actually such an overwhelming feeling - knowing that your kid can at least do what you couldn’t do. But at the end of the day, I’m not heart sore about it. It doesn’t really faze as I believe it wasn’t my time to be great.

“It was meant for their time and their era. So from now, it’s just about support and support because I think it’s not just for him, but a lot of kids in South Africa. There’s so much talent, and I think very soon, our country is just going to bloom.”

Van Niekerk didn’t speak to the media, but told the sparse crowd that he always felt welcome in his birth city, despite having moved to Bloemfontein as a teenager with his family.

“I say it makes no difference to me - Bloem or Cape Town, they’re both home. I always get a warm welcome whenever I’m in Cape Town, and it’s always a blessing to come to Cape Town as this is where I get the most love,” the 400m Olympic champion and world record-holder said.

“It was a wonderful moment to win the 400m at the Olympics, and next year I hope to post better times in the 100m and 200m as well. It’s great to be here as my very first international event that I watched was at the Green Point Stadium.”


Crowd swarm @WaydeDreamer #CelebrateOlympians @IOL

— Cape Times (@CapeTimesSA) October 17, 2016


Swarts’ best days on the track were at Athlone Stadium in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Asked if she has taken Van Niekerk on a tour of the historic venue, she said: “No, no! He hasn’t been there. We should actually consider doing that, because that is our home ground again.

“Ja, the sacrifices have paid off, and like I always tell parents is that all those seeds that you invest in your kids, one day you’ll reap the fruits.

“And I mean today, we are reaping the fruits of everything that we’ve put in. And I wouldn’t change it. Even if I had to go back today, I wouldn’t change it, at all.”

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Independent Media

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