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The Runner Who Won The Men's 400M In Rio Is An International Treasure

I'm pretty sure I'm dead inside, but watching this South African runner win gold made me feel more feelings than anything else at Rio so far.

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And not JUST win gold, but blow away some extremely fierce competition and obliterate Michael Johnson's 17-year-old world record for the event.

Congratulations @WaydeDreamer to you and your coach! Well done and deserved. Olympic Gold and World record. I know the feeling! #Rio2016

At his first Olympics. While running in the outermost Lane 8 on the track, where you can't see anyone else in the race, and from which no one has ever successfully won Olympic gold in this event. That's...kind of a big deal, y'all.

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And where did he get those cheekbones?

Also maybe, if I play my cards right, c) future husband.

Because Wayde doesn't just have the best bone structure on the track; he also has a story so inspiring it could make a pair of running shoes choke up.

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NBC ran a pre-race Feelings segment on van Niekerk before the 400m that did exactly what it was supposed to, i.e. make me bawl like a dang baby when he won.

He wasn't just running for himself, but for his trainer, an amazing 74-year-old woman named Ans Botha.

South Africa sprinter @WaydeDreamer and 400m #WorldRecord holder is trained by a 74-year old great grandmother.

Botha runs the track program, like the total boss she is, at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, where van Niekerk was a student.

And for his mom, a former track athlete herself who couldn't compete internationally because of apartheid laws in South Africa.

She, understandably, is proud as heck.

Van Niekerk carried his country's flag during the opening ceremony, and then won South Africa's first gold of the Rio games. After winning he said, "I have dreamed of this since I was a kid."

Anyway, his coach's reaction when he won summed up my own feelings exactly. This stuff is why the Olympics are worth watching.

So, if you missed van Niekerk running last night, I highly suggest checking out the race here.

And you can tune in to see him run for another medal (hopefully) in the 200m final on Thursday.

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CORRECTION

The University of the Free State's main campus is in Bloemfontein. An earlier version of this post misstated its location. Wayde Van Niekerk's full surname is also now included throughout the piece.


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