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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Lythe Pillay to race his idol Wayde van Niekerk in Potch tonight

400m teenage sensation Lythe Pillay will race against his hero Wayde van Niekerk in Potchefstroom tonight. After opening his 2020 domestic track season with a sub 46 clocking a fortnight ago, the world record holder returns to the Puk McArthur Stadium this evening hoping to go lower than the 45.89 he ran last time out.

Lythe Pillay training for his clash against Wayde van Niekerk.

What will also be different this time is the young pretender in the lane next to him. At just 17 years old, Pillay is one of South Africa’s most promising athletic prospects. Recently appointed Deputy Head boy for the 2021 academic year, The King Edwards VII School pupil holds a personal best of 46.26 and is the reigning U18 African champion following his gold medal run in Abidjan last year.

All of that impressive running ability will be tested tonight when he lines up for first time in an official senior men’s race against an athlete he describes as his role model. “I admire Wayde because he showed us what’s possible. He showed that you can be the best from here [South Africa],” said the Grade 11 learner during a training session at the Boksburg Stadium last week.

400m Olympic champion & World Record holder Wayde van Niekerk at the McArthur Stadium two weeks ago with the talented Thale twins.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s one-lap showdown against the reigning Olympic champion, Lythe’s status as one of the country’s future champions seems assured. The schoolboy has been named in South Africa’s Olympic preparation squad as a member of the 4 by 400m relay team alongside his idol.

But he is not putting any pressure on himself to be included in the final squad for Tokyo 2021. His coach Lindi du Plessis agrees insisting that next year’s focus is firmly on the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya with the Olympics as a bonus. “Baby steps, we still need to look after him for the future. But he is a very mature athlete who is capable of anything. The sky is the limit.”

Lythe's coach Lindi du Plessis keeps a watchful eye on him at the track.

To find out more about this exciting young athlete watch this week’s episode of #TheTopRunner on SuperSport by searching “Top Runner” using your DStv remote. Episode 5 is also available on Showmax and DStv Now.

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