CAPE TOWN – He is the fastest man in the world in a lap around an athletics track, but Wayde van Niekerk was at a track of a different kind on Saturday.
Van Niekerk and his wife Chesney, as well as fellow SA athletes Akani Simbine and Ruswahl Samaai, attended the qualifying day at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Monza.
The group were accompanied by their agent Peet van Zyl, and posed for pictures outside a number of pit-lane garages of the various teams.
The highlight for Van Niekerk, perhaps, was meeting former Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, who used to race for Sauber, Ferrari and Williams.
“So I just had the opportunity to meet the legend himself. @MassaFelipe19” the reigning Olympic 400m champion tweeted, to which Massa replied: “You are the legend my brother!!! My pleasure to be with you! Great person you are!! @WaydeDreamer @Richard_Mille”
Long jump star Samaai, who ended second to countryman Luvo Manyonga in the Diamond League final in Brussels on Thursday night, said that being at Monza was “One off the bucket list”.
Sprinter Simbine also participated in the Diamond League final, finishing fifth in the 100m on Friday night.
Meanwhile, Van Niekerk is on the mend from his long-term knee injury, and actually started running again in practice on Thursday in Doha, Qatar.
“Back to the basics. Breakthrough - today was day 1 running again. Pain free and blessed,” he tweeted.
Back to the basics. Breakthrough - today was day 1 running again. Pain free and blessed. 🙏🏽🙏🏽 #QuietStorm #WaydeWasHere #OutOfReach #Pray1st #Adidas #DiscoveryVitality #AudiZA #RichardMille #TSystems pic.twitter.com/mXRtNrmg9l