South African sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk shocked the track world on Sunday with a new world record in the men’s 400-meter dash.
Van Niekerk ran it in 43.03 seconds, shattering Michael Johnson’s previous record from 1999.
He also won the race from lane eight, which has never been done before.
Making Van Niekerk’s accomplishment even greater is that he’s coached by Anna Botha, a 74-year-old great-grandmother who coached the track team at Kovsies, a South African school where Van Niekerk was taking classes. The two have formed a close bond as Botha has overseen his rise, including a win in the 400 at the 2015 World Championships.
During Van Niekerk’s race on Sunday, Botha was adorably excited for her runner, jumping up and down in the stands and generally looking shocked at what she had witnessed.
Botha told City Press in 2015 of her career at her age, “I’m very blessed because I don’t have any health problems, and it is because I’m busy with young people — and you have to be high up there with them.”
Despite the unusual relationship, the two worked together to a new world record.
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