Wayde one step closer to top IAAF award

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Wayde van Niekerk PHOTO: ROGER SEDRES/ IMAGE SA

The world 400m record holder, Wayde van Niekerk, has taken one step closer to being named as the IAAF’s Athlete of the Year for 2016.

Van Niekerk, who broke the world record to win the Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in a time of 43.03 seconds, will compete with his friend, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, and Great Britain’s Mo Farah for the award.

The Olympic women’s 800m gold medallist, Caster Semenya, missed the cut for the top three in the women’s Athlete of the Year Award.

The three women’s finalists are the Ethiopian 10 000m star, Almaz Ayana, the Jamaican sprinter, Elaine Thompson, and the hammer-thrower, Anita Wlodarczyk.

Earlier Van Niekerk spoke of what his nomination means for athletics in South Africa.

“This is international, and not just having one gender but having both genders representing South Africa.

“I’m nominated with the best track and field athletes in the world.

“It’s a massive opportunity for South Africa to jump onto the movement and generation of athletes coming through.

“Caster Semenya and I just represent the mass of South African athletes coming through.”

The former high-jumper, Hestrie Cloete, is the only South African to have won the prestigious award after claiming the honours in 2003. – MORGAN PIEK