As they screamed his name and welcomed him back, he broke into a shy smile as they handed him flowers and balloons.
Despite the several bodyguards that accompanied him, the athlete stopped to greet them.
The overwhelming show of support even prompted the athlete to stop and take selfies with fans, especially youngsters. This included a toddler who continued to scream his name until she got his attention.
The 24-year-old’s mother Odessa Swarts was also at the airport, but stood on the sidelines and allowed her son to acknowledge his fans. Some of them from Willow Ridge High School in Pretoria said that they were aspiring athletes and regarded van Niekerk as a role model.