Wayde van Niekerk is a name that resonates with many South Africans. As a sporting hero for many youngsters, holding the world record in the 400m, he needs little introduction, yet one has to admire his humility and work ethic.
Wanted Motoring spoke to the 25-year-old from Bloemfontein who is also a brand ambassador for Audi Sport.
Wayde, you’re a household name in South Africa. Can you tell us about your personal progress and how you’ve gone about achieving greatness in your field?
It has been quite a unique journey for me. Around the age of 14, I wanted nothing more than to be the best athlete that I could be. However, at the time I never quite thought I would one day be spoken of in the same breath as the iconic athlete Michael Johnson, let alone break his long-standing 400m record. I am eternally grateful for this God-given talent.
As an Audi Sport brand ambassador, how do your personality and success story match up to the brand’s sporty, progressive and innovative approach?
Building a relationship with a brand like Audi that resonates with me has taught me the essence of pushing the boundaries, striving to do my utmost no matter what. There are many synergies between the brand and myself. I am passionate and love what I do, and it is quite evident that the Audi brand achieves the same. Much like the brand’s motto “Vorsprung durch Technik”, innovation and pushing the envelope to be the best is what motivates me.
You have the enviable opportunity to drive the ultimate in the brand’s portfolio, the R8. What is your opinion of the car and how does it fit into your lifestyle?
It has been nothing but a dream come true, driving a vehicle that is a poster car for many people, including myself a few years ago. It still feels surreal. Whenever I open my garage door and see the R8, I can’t help but have an overwhelming feeling of appreciation and joy. The car fits well into my lifestyle as it is comfortable, fast when you want it to be, and the technology is really something I admire.
As an athlete, how do you overcome obstacles and realise your ambitions?
I always look back at how far I have come and where it all began, and why I decided to become the best in my field. I am grateful for challenges because they build my character and motivate me to rise above them and strive for even greater success.
How does the R8 help you achieve personal freedom as an athlete?
Every time I go on a drive, I realise how good the car makes me feel, how it connects with me. It is the best that Audi has to offer and you can easily see why that is. The way it looks, the power and performance, not to mention the technology – no matter what mood I might be in, as soon as I jump into the R8, I feel energised and keen to push even further as an athlete.
Is the feeling of driving the R8 similar to competing in a race?
Definitely. The car gives you the feeling of being the best in its league, and that is the same way I feel when I am on the starting line at every race. I want to deliver my utmost best, just like the R8 always manages to do that on the road.
This article was paid for by Audi.