Wayde’s coach Ans to get IAAF award
THE epitome of patience and perseverance, Tannie Ans Botha is set to be honoured at the IAAF’s annual awards evening in Monaco on November 24, less than a month before her 76th birthday.
Botha has been elevated to international star status in the last couple of years thanks to her work as the coach of world 400m record-holder and Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk.
“It is, of course, an incredible honour and I am so grateful to receive an accolade like this at this stage of my life,” Botha said, confirming that she will receive an award from the athletics’ body.
“There is a lot of emotion involved with this kind of announcement.”
Botha has been working with the South African wunderkind since 2012, with Van Niekerk reaching unprecedented heights in global athletics.
She has been the architect behind his success which includes two world 400m titles, an Olympic gold medal, and the world record in the one-lap sprint.
The 75-year-old said she would not have been able to reach the pinnacle of the sport without perseverance and patience. “With athletics, you always have to keep your focus on the long-term as there are many low points along the way.
“You have to be prepared for injuries and illness which sets you back and I’ve seen it with Thuso Mpuang for instance where it took us five years to get him from start- ing out in athletics to where I got him to a level winning national titles and qualifying for the Olympics.”
Botha and Van Niekerk have experienced the peaks and troughs of international sport -- she took the phenom from an injury-prone athlete with immense potential to one of the greatest sprinters in the world.
With the injuries that had dogged him in his early years finally in the past the duo were on a worldwide crusade from 2014, conquering one track meeting after another.
But their good run of the last three years came to a screeching halt when Van Niekerk sustained medial and lateral tears of the meniscus, as well as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a celebrity tag rugby match in October.
“These setbacks cross your path and one learns how to deal with them but, I can’t deny it, it is extremely difficult to process,” Botha says. “Yet it is important to put it behind you as soon as possible and strive to create something even more positive. It took us five years to get Wayde to record the times he has been running over the last two seasons or so.”
Van Niekerk is currently in the US in the first phase of his rehabilitation after surgery there two weeks ago.
“Wayde and I have a strong bond where we have faith in God who has guided our lives over the last five years. The operation was a success, Wayde is improving very well but my first name over the next few weeks and months will be ‘Patience’.”