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The 74-year-old great-grandmother behind the new 400-meter world record holder

Ans BothaThe most unbelievable race of the 2016 Olympics had an unbelievable woman behind it. And she wasn’t even on the track.

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk stunned everyone when he convincingly won the 400-meter race from Lane 8, a blind position, and shattered Michael Johnson’s 17-year-old world record in the process. His winning time was 43.03, made even more unbelievable considering he hadn’t ran faster than 44.11 this year.

Shortly after van Niekerk beyond impressive performance, the story of his unconventional coaching spread. An Olympian with a 74-year-old great grandmother as his coach certainly is a new one.

Ans Botha was once a sprinter and a long jumper, and her pupils call her “Tannie Ans,” meaning Auntie. Last year, the head coach at South Africa’s University of the Free State told the City Press that her “passion is too high” to stop coaching in a career spanning five decades. She got emotional when describing her responsibility in coaching van Niekerk.

READ FULL STORY: washingtonpost.com


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