Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa, who was taken to hospital following his victory in the men’s 400m on Wednesday night after his “vital signs” were said by medical sources to be “unstable”, has said the actions were “out of proportion.”
“My legs just felt tired,” said the23-year-old, whose winning time of 43.48 was the fastest time run since 2007. “Its just the normal feeling for the athlete after the race. I think it all was taken out of proportion.
“It was strange to win a gold medal and end up in the hospital but they just said it was part of the medical procedure.”
Van Niekerk, who was discharged from hospital at around 23.45 local time on Wednesday, added that after crossing the line, his “main goal” had been to try and avoid sitting down.
“I just tried to go as fast as possible to try to get to finish line,” he said. “I was praying through the whole race. And through the last 200 meters said, ‘Lord, please, do not let go on me’. And that’s when I started kicking and started going even harder.
“And then last few meters of the race I started dying out a little but I had to go through.
“After I crossed the finish line my main goal was to try not to sit down because once I sit down it was going to be finished. I tried to go inside the rest of the team.”
Instead, he lay down on the track, from which he was eventually wheeled away on a stretcher.
“I’m really just grateful that I won the race,” Van Niekerk said. “It’s definitely a confidence boost for me. I would love just to go up from that.”