Wayde van Niekerk missed out on being named the IAAF world athlete of the year, but the South African superstar was still celebrating success after his coach, ‘Tannie Ans’ Botha, was handed a Lifetime Coaching Achievement award.
Reacting to the award, handed out in Monaco on Friday evening, Van Niekerk tweeted, ‘Dear Coach. Tannie Ans. No achievement shines brighter then Love and a Good heart. You deserve all the praise and recognition. Although that’s never been or ever will be the motive. You a Legend. #Tannie Ans’
Van Niekerk himself missed out on the major award of athlete of the year to high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, while Belgian heptathlete Nafissatou Thiam won the women’s athlete of the year award. Britain’s Mo Farah was the third athlete shortlisted with Van Niekerk and Barshim for the men’s award.
The 26-year-old Barshim completed an undefeated season across 11 competitions and won the Diamond League title. He became the first high jumper in history to leap 2.40m or higher in five successive years.
Van Niekerk is currently making his way back to fitness following a knee injury sustained in a celebrity touch rugby match at Newlands in October, after which he underwent the surgeon’s knife in the United States. The injury has ruled South Africa’s 400m Olympic and world champion out of April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The full citation from the IAAF for Botha read: ‘The Namibian coach is best known for guiding Wayde van Niekerk to the 2015 and 2017 world 400m titles and the 2016 Olympic gold medal where the South African broke the world record with a sensational 43.03 run.
‘A former athlete who competed in the sprints and long jump, Botha, better known as Tannie Ans, began her career as a coach in the late 1960s, first by guiding her children and later by identifying and developing regional talent. She has been the head coach at the University of the Free State since 1990.’
Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images
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