Sunday 18 February 2018

Wayde van Niekerk celebrates Olympic gold by trolling Arsenal

Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) of South Africa reacts after setting a new world record and winning the gold medal
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) of South Africa reacts after setting a new world record and winning the gold medal

Jack de Menezes

New 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk has more than one reason to celebrate after his incredible gold medal performance on Sunday night after watching his beloved Liverpool make a winning start to the Premier League season, and he seized the chance to troll Arsenal to a worldwide audience in the aftermath of his victory in Rio de Janeiro.

South African sprinter Van Niekerk stunned the rest of the men’s 400m final athletes as he pulled away in lane eight to win the race by some margin and secure his country’s first gold medal of the Rio Olympics, breaking Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old 400m world record in the process with an unrivalled time of 43.03 seconds.

The 24-year-old Cape Town native admitted afterward that he spent the hours before his date with destiny watching the Premier League clash between Liverpool and Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, in what proved to be a thrilling encounter just as much as his 400m final was.

Van Niekerk was, understandably, all smiles after the race, and revealed it wasn’t just his gold medal-winning performance that had him delighted.

"I watched the Liverpool match before, I was losing my mind because it was a tight match. We got the win,” Van Niekerk told the Olympic World Service, having witnessed Liverpool fight back from a goal down to beat Arsenal 4-3.

"My brother is an Arsenal fan. Now I've got the world record and Liverpool beat Arsenal.”

As well as taking delight in Liverpool’s nail-biting victory, Van Niekerk also revealed that he had spoken to 100m world record holder Usain Bolt before and after his 400m final, and the Jamaican great – who clinched a third successive Olympic gold medal in the 100m and the seventh in total of his career – told the South African that he had the ability to break Johnson’s world record, set in Sevilla in 1999.

"Bolt told me in Jamaica: 'you will break the world record',” Van Niekerk added. “Tonight he said: 'I told you you can do it'."

(© Independent News Service)

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