Interview: Gold Medal Winner, World Record Setter and Richard Mille Brand Ambassador, Wayde Van Niekerk

World Record runner, Olympic Gold Medalist and Richard Mille brand ambassador, Wayde van Niekerk (photo: R. Naas)
World Record runner, Olympic Gold Medalist and Richard Mille brand ambassador, Wayde van Niekerk (photo: R. Naas)

Last week, South African Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk, also a Richard Mille brand ambassador, traveled to England to meet the Liverpool team. He discussed his world record win in the 2016 Rio Olympics and his title in the 400meter races. Luckily, we also recently had the opportunity to meet with Van Niekerk after his Olympic victories to talk about how time plays a role in his life. Here we bring you that exclusive interview.

Q: How did it feel to win in Rio?

WvN: “To me, it was extremely humbling; it was a blessed feeling because of all the hard work, dedication and sacrifices you put in to it for years, just building up to this and to get to go away with a gold metal and a world record both at once is humbling. I am grateful I got to experience God’s grace in my life. It was also exciting because it was South Africa’s first gold medal of that Olympics and it was a great honor to represent the country in such a positive light. I always knew I wanted to be as sports star; I was in love with all sports as a kid. My parents would find me always on the field playing with family and friends and it was difficult to pull me away. There was no way I was going to do anything else in my life. So this accomplishment was really special.”

Q: How does time factor in?

WvN: “Time plays a very important role. To me, time is something you need to respect; that’s how I grew up and what I learned over the years. You need to respect it and use it as though it is the most precious thing in the world, because it is. As an athlete, time gives you confidence; it makes you or breaks you. The faster you run, the better you do and the more confidence you build. Also, once you let time slip away, you can’t get it back again and so you need to really embrace it.”

Wayde van Niekerk
Wayde van Niekerk (photo: Matteo Pittini)

Q: What was the longest moment in your life?

WvN: “As a sports person, the longest moment of my life was being injured. You need to take that time to build positivity; being injured demands a lot of patience and effort and you learn to get to know yourself and grow spiritually, mentally and physically. It is about just building only a good environment around you. It took a long time to get that structured in my life, so I think that was one of the longest challenges I had in my career.”

The Richard Mille watch Wayde van Niekerk wears, and wore when he set the world record for the 400 meter in Rio.
The Richard Mille watch Wayde van Niekerk wears, and wore when he set the world record for the 400 meter in Rio.

Q: How did you feel when Richard Mille approached you to be a brand ambassador?

WvN: “First I was so surprised. I never really had the knowledge of the brand and as we got introduced to it and did research and saw the watches, it was amazing to me how they focus on the finer parts of the watches and the little things, the details. That was really important to me because I need to always focus on the little things, too. Sometimes I just sit there and stare at my watch for a few minutes, and later I catch myself doing it again. Then I think, ‘this is what makes the brand so special, all the fine details of making the watch look beautiful and irresistible. “

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