SA won­der Wayde up for more hon­ours

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

SPRINT sen­sa­tion Wayde van Niek­erk could earn an­other ma­jor feather in his cap af­ter he was short­listed for the Lau­reus Sport Break­through of the Year Award yes­ter­day.

The new 400m world record holder is fly­ing high af­ter his gold medal run at the Rio Olympics, earn­ing plau­dits from across the globe.

Van Niek­erk could add an­other in­ter­na­tional gong to his grow­ing list of ac­co­lades af­ter he was named Best Male Ath­lete of the 2016 Rio Games by the As­so­ci­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tees (Anoc).

The South African lost out on the men’s IAAF World Ath­lete of the Year award to Ja­maican sprint icon Usain Bolt, who won the ti­tle for the sixth time at the end of last year.

Van Niek­erk was named among six nom­i­nees from dif­fer­ent sports in the Break­through of the Year cat­e­gory.

He will go up against For­mula One world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg, Ethiopian world record breaker Al­maz Ayana, and three teams – English Premier League cham­pi­ons Le­ices­ter City, Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship quar­ter-fi­nal­ists Ice­land and Olympic Rugby Sevens gold medal­lists Fiji.

Van Niek­erk fol­lows in the foot­steps of Os­car Pis­to­rius (2008 and 2012) and Louis Oosthuizen to be nom­i­nated for this award.

Six South Africans have won awards in var­i­ous cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing the vic­to­ri­ous Spring­boks from the 2007 Rugby World Cup for Team of the Year, and Pis­to­rius, Natalie du Toit and Ernst van Dyk for Sportsper­son with a Dis­abil­ity.

Ad­ven­turer Mike Horn and Spring­bok Schalk Burger earned gongs for Action Sportsper­son of the Year and Come­back of the Year re­spec­tively.

“I am hum­bled just to be men­tioned in the com­pany of great sports­men and women that have been nom­i­nated for the Lau­reus World Sports Awards,” Van Niek­erk said in an In-Site Ath­lete Man­age­ment re­lease.

“Just to be nom­i­nated is a dream come true for any ath­lete, which will in­spire and mo­ti­vate me for years to come.”

Van Niek­erk broke the 400m world record to win gold in his maiden ap­pear­ance at the Rio Olympics by smash­ing Michael John­son’s pre­vi­ous mark with a time of 43.03 sec­onds.

He also be­came the first man to have posted a sub-10sec time in the 100m, sub-20 in the 200m and sub-44 in the one-lap sprint.

Nom­i­na­tions for the pres­ti­gious Lau­reus World Sports­man of the Year award in­clude Bolt, 5000 and 10 000m Olympic cham­pion Mo Farah, ten­nis gold medalist Andy Mur­ray, Por­tuguese football star Chris­tiano Ron­aldo and basketball’s Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

The women’s cat­e­gory in­cludes Amer­i­cans Si­mone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Allyson Felix, German ten­nis ace An­gelique Ker­ber, Ja­maican sprint sen­sa­tion Elaine Thomp­son and Bri­tish cy­clist Laura Kenny.

The win­ners will be an­nounced in Monaco on Fe­bru­ary 14.

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