Tannie Ans overwhelmed by IAAF award

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Wayde van Niekerk and Tannie Ans Botha during day 2 of the ASA Senior Championships at PUK McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom, PHOTO: ROGER SEDRES / IMAGE SA

Tannie Ans Botha was left overwhelmed after being named as the IAAF Coach of the Year for 2017.

The coach of the 400m world record holder, Olympic gold medallist and two-time IAAF World Championships gold medallist, Wayde van Niekerk, has received some well-deserved recognition for her outstanding work with the Bloemfontein sprinter.

Van Niekerk himself is line for a top award after making the shortlist for the IAAF Athlete of the Year. After his performance during the World Championship in London earlier his year, the shy and humble sprinter has been tipped to receive award this year after being nominated last year as well.

Botha admitted that receiving the accolade was something that she never imaged and is left humbled.

“You know, it’s such a cliché, but I never ever expected this.

“Both my feet are still gone (chuckles), I’m really overwhelmed by this. It’s such an honour and is so humbling, and thankful and blessed.

“To receive this kind of recognition for something which you have a passion for and love is amazing.

“I never think about this kind of this recognition or payment for some that I love to do.

At 75-years-old Tannie Ans has been coaching for an incredibly long time, and in the bigger scheme of this they accolade is but a drop in the oceans, however, she says it makes all the long hours of hard work so much more worthwhile.

“Oh yes! This is something so-so very special and rewarding. This is something that I think the dream for each and every coach.

“You work the everyday for recognition for your athlete and not really for yourself because you care about your athlete and you want them to achieve their goals and their dreams.

“Every time they achieve something you get to share the joy with them.

“To be the receiver of something this exceptional is really special. As I said I’m still floating, I cannot believe it.”

Botha’s star athlete, Van Niekerk, is also in line for a top award after being nominated for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award. Seeing that Van Niekerk and Botha are team, she agrees that it would be something very special indeed if he gets named as the best athlete in the world.

“It will make it so much more special if Wayde and I can both return with these achievements and awards.

“I told him the other night that half of my award belongs to him. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do this and it’s vice versa. We are a team, we work together to be the best and do the best.”

In 2017 Van Niekerk won the 400m gold at the IAAF World Championships in London, and went on to win 200m silver during the first major international meet in which he doubled up.

Van Niekerk is currently recovering from knee surgery, after injury his knee in a game of touch rugby. The injury has ruled his out of next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. – MORGAN PIEK