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

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