Welcome home Wayde van Niekerk!

Published Sep 7, 2016


By: Karishma Dipa  

Johannesburg - The first thing that greeted gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk when he arrived at OR Tambo International Airport were the cheers of school children.

As they screamed his name and welcomed him back, he broke into a shy smile as they handed him flowers and balloons.

Despite the several bodyguards that accompanied him, the athlete stopped to greet them.

The overwhelming show of support even prompted the athlete to stop and take selfies with fans, especially youngsters. This included a toddler who continued to scream his name until she got his attention.

The 24-year-old's mother Odessa Swarts was also at the airport, but stood on the sidelines and allowed her son to acknowledge his fans. Some of them from Willow Ridge High School in Pretoria said that they were aspiring athletes and regarded van Niekerk as a role model.

Van Niekerk, his coach Ans Botha, affectionately known as Tannie Ans and fellow sprinter Akani Simbine arrived back in the country for the first time since the Rio 2016 Olympics. He won gold in the men's 400m race and set a new world record when he broke Michael Johnson's previous world best.

Simbine became the first South African man since Danie Joubert at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics to make the 100m final at the Game He finished fifth, crossing the line in 9.94sec, the second-best time of his career.

Despite the roar of fans that greeted the now national hero, van Niekerk was also welcomed back home and congratulated for his victory by receiving a Audi R8.

He grinned as officials pulled off the covers of the sports car and even jumped in to started the car.

This elicited more cheers from fans, who occupied all the free space around the international arrivals terminals in a bid to catch a glimpse of him inside the car.

Although the security persons tried to escort him out of the airport, he stopped many times to greet and take pictures with those who came to congratulate him.

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The Star


The moment . @WaydeDreamer and . @AkaniSimbine walked into the arrival hall. #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/FUHIdnGqlh

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016

— Karishma Dipa (@Karishma_Dipa) September 7, 2016



Wayde van Niekerk welcomed to OR Tambo with an Audi R8. #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/MUYUwqEJYu

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016



Haven't seen an athlete receive so much attention from fans and the media. Wayde handling it with aplomb. #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/svOtrrcNhg

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016



Guess whose car is this? #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/JGLqa15UyP

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016



Odessa Swarts and Elsie Simbine having a chat while waiting for the arrival of their sons at OR Tambo. #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/gfJL2C6ABi

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016



Not forgetting South Africa’s sub-10 machine Akani Simbine is also arriving back in SA today. #IOLYMPICS pic.twitter.com/0E8wba1R0L

— Ockert de Villiers (@ockertde) September 7, 2016 IOL


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