South African 400m champion, Wayde Van Niekerk says he wants young people who watch his documentary film to be inspired and know they too can achieve what they set out to.

Van Niekerk was speaking at the Johannesburg premier of 43:03 – the Wayde van Niekerk Story on Thursday.

When he was about 12-years-old, van Niekerk quit athletics. He cannot remember exactly why but he suspects it was just because things were hard.

“Being at that age, it’s easy to say… to just say, I don’t want to do that anymore, but as you grow up you start becoming more mature in your decisions. If things don’t go well at 11 it’s easy to quit, but now that I’m grown I realise that if things don’t go well it’s my reality, and I need to work through whatever challenges I have.”

Four or so years later, he decided to go back to athletics and at the 2016 Rio elections he became the world 400m championship, winning a gold medal and setting a new world record of 43.03 seconds.

 

The documentary is named after that World Record.  The 70-minute film tells the story of Van Niekerk’s rise from humble beginnings to the global sporting icon he is today.

He says he hopes from watching the film, young people will be inspired to reach for their dreams.

“Even I get inspired by watching it; it tells a story, and has elements that I have not even recognised in this journey of mine… Hopefully, it speaks for itself and inspires young kids,” says Van Niekerk.

He says the documentary has given him itchy feet – and makes him want to get back on the track as soon as possible.

He is currently not running as he is recovering from an injury he sustained in 2017. He says while the injury is one of the most challenging he has had to deal with, he is optimistic about his recovery. He expects to be ready to get back on the field in 2019.

“My recovery is going very well. I’m taking my time in terms of making sure that my rehabilitation is 150% – so that when I get back on the track it’s like I’ve never been gone. I don’t want to come back with people thinking they still have a chance. I want to continue where I left off. If not, be even better off than when I left, that’s where my mentality is at,” says Van Niekerk.