Wayde van Niekerk is an Olympic Gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics, smashing a 17 year old world record for the 400m.
And if that is not enough, he is the only person to do the following three: Run the 100m under 20secs, the 200m under 20secs, and the 400m under 45 seconds.
Even his close friend Usain Bolt’s jaw dropped when Wayde won the Olympic race!
I had the pleasure to connect to him recently, and took away 5 really important points from his story
1. Humility is not a reflection on your net worth or how much money you earn.
Wayde drove up to the meeting point in a car worth $220 000. It was fancy, loud and expensive.
“What arrogance” I thought. I then was also told he had run the Olympic final's race with a wrist watch worth $770 000!
But when I spoke to him, this man was gentle and incredibly humble. The car, wrist watch and all the millions of dollars he now earns are all sponsorship deals.
At the essence, this man has not forgotten his roots, his manners, and his humility.
My takeaway: Your earnings don’t reflect you humility and values.
2. Use the talents you have and turn the opportunities into results when they present themselves
Wayde tells that although he is the fastest person in the world for the 400m, he actually hates running that particular distance race. He loves speed and prefers the shorter distances.
But in his training, his times for the 400m just kept getting better and better. So he realised he had a talent here.. and he committed to using it and making it work.
My takeaway: We all have talents. And if you find one, although it might not be what you were hoping for, or even looking for, instead of judging it and denying it… explore it, use it and embrace it.
3. Being always open to giving it your all, even when it looks grim
Wayde retells how he felt during the heats leading up to the finals at the Olympics. He said that he had not done well at the first heats and then at the semi-finals. His hamstring was giving him problems and his times were not great.
He moved up to the race starting plate on the final’s day feeling a lack of confidence and resigned himself to a low finishing place.
He usually feels the hamstring injury at the half way mark, at 200metres. During the Olympic finals, as he got to the 200m mark.. he did no feel the injury and said.. “ok… let’s open this up. And so he did, winning the race and claiming GOLD.
My takeaway: Sometimes your predictions of the results look grim. But always stay open that your precisions and assumptions may be wrong.. .and be prepared and open to it suddenly all going your way and you grab that opportunity.
4. The most important people inyour life can be those already around you
Wayde’s story just gets even more amazing. He breaks a 17 year old world record that hundreds of top atheletes just couldn’t do. And his coach is his grandmother.
My takeaway: Often the most important people are those close around us. Parents, grandparetns, and friends all contribute to our growth and our success. Who are you overlooking?
5. Winning requires effort and training
Wayde is really open about how hard it is to train for the 400m. He even went so far as to say he ‘hates’ it. But that doesn’t stop him from being committed and focussed. There is nothing about this man that shows an arrogance and entitlement attitude.
And now that he has made it to the top, he says he is just beginning... he has so much more to offer, and he knows hard work and effort will get him there. You can see he is confident about this.
My takeaway: Just because you are talented, or have a unique gift, you still need to put in time, effort and hard work to really make it to the top.
Well done Wayde van Niekerk! You carry the values of a true Olympian hero!