Inspirational Olympic record breaker weighed just twice the weight of his Olympic Gold medal when he was born three months prematurely

Wayde van Neikerk, born at little more than one kilogram, has gone on to break an Olympic record in the men's 400m.

Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk was crowned the 400m Olympic champion after an amazing performance yesterday. Finishing in 43.03 seconds, he achieved a new world record, 0.15 seconds faster than previous record holder Michael Johnson.

This is an amazing achievement by any standard. The fact that Wayde’s parents were warned that their tiny baby may not survive and might be facing a disability after he was born three months prematurely makes his story even more extraordinary.

Wayde was born at 29 weeks and spent several weeks in an incubator at the neonatal unit of Groote Schuur Hospital, Tygerberg in South Africa. At little more than 1kg, Wayde was born at just twice the weight of his Olympic gold medal.

Sarra Hoy, mother to premature baby, Callum, celebrated Wayde’s achievement on twitter after his win.

Wayde has spoken of his birth and the journey his mother went through. He also returned to the hospital that cared for him to make a donation earlier this year.

“From what my mother tells me it was apparently a very difficult and emotional journey to have a premature baby. There were days where she was not sure whether I was going to make it to the next day. That’s how sick I was.”

Having a premature baby can be such a scary time for parents. Being born early can affect the way that babies develop which can be a real worry for mums and dads. The earlier your child was born, the higher the risks, so you need to keep an eye out for any areas where you think there could be a delay.

However, it's all about striking a balance: every child develops in their own unique way, and your baby's development will depend on a range of factors, including their genetic make-up, and the environment and influences around.

As Wayde has shown, preemies are not to be underestimated - you might even have a tiny future Olympian in your arms.

Read more about development after prematurity here

Read more about potential health difficulties here

Watch Wayde’s incredible record breaking 400m here

Read more Tommy's news and views

  • Picture of Jennie Agg


    A personal meaning of motherhood and Mother's Day

    We asked our lovely friend and supporter, Jennie Agg, what motherhood and Mother's Day means to her. In this piece, she speaks of her difficult past experiences of Mother's Day, how she has grappled with a sense of being in limbo, and the ultimate purity of her feeling of mother love.

  • Collage of photos showing six women who have experienced baby loss, miscarriage and infertility


    Advice to help you cope on Mother’s Day

    In the lead up to Mother's Day, you might find yourself thinking about how to process your emotions and what to do on the day itself. The anticipation can often feel scary or daunting, and finding ways to look after yourself is important. In this blog, you'll find advice from a few of our lovely supporters who understand how you're feeling.

  • Mother holding newborn baby


    Giving some pregnant women progesterone could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year, say experts

    New research has revealed the benefits of giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage.

  • Tim Draycott, Clinical Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement, giving a presentation to audience at the 'Portraying Pregnancy' event


    Tommy's hosts breakfast morning at the Foundling Museum

    Tommy’s spent yesterday morning at the charming Foundling Museum in London, celebrating the work of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement alongside the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, ‘Portraying Pregnancy’.

Read more #misCOURAGE stories

  • #misCOURAGE story


    Lane's Story

    I love hearing stories from inspiring women. From birth stories to infertility struggles to adoption stories, I leave each read feeling inspired and in awe of what women face and overcome. After reading a couple of stories and talking with my husband, I decided to share the story of our son Lane.

  • #misCOURAGE story


    Worst week of my life

    Those dreaded words that I didn't want to hear 'I am sorry but you're having a miscarriage'.

  • #misCOURAGE story


    Sharing Bad News is Horrible

    Sadly the scan showed I had lost the baby, there was no heartbeat.

  • #misCOURAGE story


    PCOS and my missed miscarriage

    2 days before my 12 week scan, I noticed some spotting.we had had a missed miscarriage.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No