Wayde van Niekerk has finally won a gold medal he gets to keep.
His 400m victory at the World Championships in London on Tuesday night was his first major triumph since moving out of the parental home in Bloemfontein. He was still living under their roof when he won his 2015 world title and 2016 Olympic crown.
"Both my medals before this had to go to ma because she said everything that’s achieved in her house stays at home‚" he said to laughter at the media conference for the 400m medallists.
"So, this is my first gold medal I can take to my own house. I’m glad that both myself‚ my parents and my coach can celebrate this moment."
Van Niekerk’s comments came while praising his mentor‚ Tannie Ans Botha‚ after he had been asked for his thoughts on this being the first world championships where the coaches of medallists were receiving medallions of their own.
"Everyone knows the superstar coach I have. It’s actually a massive honour for me.
"She had to wait such a long time to be able to achieve three golds in three years as a coach and on the third gold, she gets to take one home as well and brag with it to her family and friends," Van Niekerk said.
Botha, 75, and Van Niekerk have been working together since 2012; two years after he caught her attention when he finished fourth in the 200m final of the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Canada.
In 2013, Van Niekerk started focusing on the 400m on Botha’s advice to improve his endurance and recovery from persistent hamstring injuries.
Van Niekerk was also asked about taking over from the retiring Usain Bolt as the headline act of track and field worldwide‚ but he replied that he wanted to see other athletes sharing the platform with him.