BEIJING witnessed one of the greatest 400m finals in World Championships history – no world record, but all three eventual medallists had to run sub-44 to make the podium. At the top of that podium was South African, Wayde van Niekerk, leaving literally everything on the track to claim the gold medal. It was a magical moment for the South African and in the stands of the Bird’s Nest stadium, coach Ans Botha watched on and celebrated. It was a naturally a special moment for the pair, a World Championships Gold medal, but it was a moment that was in the planning since the pair joined forces at the end of 2012.
Van Niekerk’s transition from the 200m to the 400m was a wise and carefully plotted journey by coach Botha. His first championship success over the 1-lap sprint saw him place second behind Grenadian Kirani James at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. The great-grandmother coach has vast knowledge and experience, with her previous international charges including Thuso Mpuang (World Student Games Silver and Bronze medallist). Despite approaching her 75th birthday, Botha believes “you’re never too old to learn, especially in athletics”.
With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games only a few weeks away, the 400m final will be one of the races to watch and the battle to the podium will surely be as tantalising as the Beijing final proved last year.
The International Festival of Athletics Coaching is delighted to welcome Ans Botha to the 2016 conference. The conference will take place at the Italian Olympic Preparation Centre in Formia, Italy. You can book your place now and find out further information on the conference programme at www.athleticscoaches.eu or at ifac.athleticscoaches.eu