Friday, 14 October 2016 15:39

Keeping time with Wayde van Niekerk

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Wayde van Niekerk Wayde van Niekerk Picture: Richard Mille

Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk, who smashed a 17 year old record set by Michael Jordan, at this year's Olympics in Rio was named luxury watch brand Richard Mille's new athlete partner soon afterwards. 

The collaboration existed before the young sprinter's triumph and he was in fact wearing a R10-million Richard Mille RM 27-02 Tourbillon wrist watch when he made made headlines this summer over 400 metres. 

Wayde chose to wear the RM27-02 for its comfort, technical sophistication and its dynamic lines, says Richard Mille.

Wayde van Niekerk has had an exceptional 2016 season. At the beginning of the year, he competed in the 100-metre dash for the first time in five years at Bloemfontein. With determined confidence, he completed the race in 9”98, becoming the first sprinter to hold a personal best under 10 seconds in the 100 metre, 20 seconds in the 200 metre and 44 seconds in the 400 metre sprints.

In June, the still unvanquished athlete set a new record for the African continent and the world’s third-best time ever in the 300 metre dash. He also became African champion in the 4 x 100 metre relay with a time of 38”84. On August 14 2016, Wayde produced one of the exploits of the year by crossing the finish line over 400 metres in 43”03, fifteen hundredths of a second faster than the world record set in 1999 by Michael Johnson.

A native of Cape Town, Wayde is a multidisciplinary sprinter, who feeds on competition and a diversity of playing fields as an essential means to progress and surpass himself. 

After beginning his career as an athlete in the high jump—a family tradition—it was in junior school, playing rugby, that Wayde discovered his aptitude for sprinting. And it was in October 2012, at the University of Bloemfontein where he was enrolled, that he signed up for a training group with Anna-Sophia Botha, who still coaches him today.

While he had always stuck to 100 and 200 metre sprints for maximum speed, he quickly heeded the advice of Anna-Sophia, who, seeking to forestall the deleterious physical impact of shorter distances, encouraged him to focus on the 400 metre race. In 2013, this strategy paid off, and Wayde came close to the 400 metre world record of 43”18. His rise continued in 2014, with two silver medals in the 400 metre sprint at the African Championships in Marrakech and the New York Diamond League Race, as well as a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metre relay race at the continental games. Last year, a world championship title was the crowning glory of a season from which he emerged unbeaten in the 200 and 400 metre categories.

Only 24 years old, Wayde van Niekerk is swiftly becoming a dominant figure. With his Richard Mille watch on his wrist, the South African track star has just begun making history and is one of the greatest athletes of his generation.

he was given a rapturous hero's welcome, along with fellow gold medallist Caster Semenye and other Olympic meal winners at OR Tambo Airport on his return from the Rio Olympics this year.


The first watch to carry Richard Mille’s name, the RM 001 Tourbillon, was launched at the millennium, and that first model was immediately heralded by the press as the "dawn of a new era in watchmaking, a revolution." Today, many of the guiding concepts and principles established by Richard Mille at that time have found their way into the mainstream of the industry, as witnessed by the fresh waves of inquisitiveness invigorating the present approach to visual and movement design, and the use of new materials in watchmaking.

However, past accomplishments are never a reason to sit still, and the Richard Mille collection has been able to surprise everyone each year with new innovations and designs that continue to push watchmaking to the edges of the possible, challenging norms on every level. Today’s collection offers everyone the watch of their dreams from unique and highly complex mechanical tours de force created for land, sea and air, to the most exquisite jewelry creations imaginable – and everything in between.-









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