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Lynsey Chutel in Quartz:

While the term coloured seems antiquated and cringe worthy in some social contexts, particularly in the United States or Britain, it is still a recognizable identity and culture in South Africa. Somewhere else, van Niekerk would probably have been black. In South Africa, his racial classification remains a key identifier as he moves through the world. For many coloured South Africans, the sight of coloured man winning the medal was affirming, seeing themselves represented—and succeeding—at the world’s premier sporting event.

Here’s a great interview with van Niekerk. And here is his record-breaking race.