'Jesus Did It': Sickly Boy Turned Olympic Track Star Wayde van Niekerk Defies Odds
"Jesus did it."
South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk wrote those words with a picture of himself on his knees posted on his Twitter account.
That was in August this year when the 24-year-old speedster set a new world record in the 400-metre race in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Jainero, sweeping past American Lashawn Merritt and the defending Olympic champion Kirani James to nab the gold medal, according to God Reports. Clocking a time of 43.03 seconds, van Niekerk shattered a record that was held for 17 years by legendary runner Michael Johnson.
Written on his track shoes were the words: "Jesus, I am all yours. Use me."
What made his victory all the more astounding was the fact that van Niekerk was once a sickly premature baby fighting for his life at a hospital in Cape Town. Born at 29 weeks, he weighed only two pounds—so frail that his mother thought he wouldn't live.
"There were days where she [his mother] was not sure whether I was going to make it to the next day. That's how sick I was," van Niekerk said.
The devoutly Christian South African athlete said by himself alone, without Jesus by his side, he could not have possibly won the race.
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"The only thing I can do now is to give God praise," van Niekerk said in Gateway News. "I asked the Lord to carry me through the race and I'm really, really blessed and grateful for this opportunity."
Sports pundits believe van Niekerk will achieve more glory with the impending retirement of Usain Bolt, a fellow believer who also gives credit to God for all his successes.
Van Niekerk first captured the world's attention in March this year when he became the first man in history to beat the 10-second mark in the 100m, the 20-second mark in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m, according to the International Association of Athletics Federation.
Now enjoying celebrity status in South Africa, van Neikerk remains humble and uses every opportunity to glorify God.
"I lunged for the finishing tape and immediately afterwards got down on my knees and thanked God and then my family for their support," he said.