Lythe Pillay becomes South Africa’s 400m champion

Lythe Pillay

Lythe Pillay

Published Apr 26, 2024


Lythe Pillay is South Africa's 400m champion after winning last weekend’s race at the South African Athletics Championship in Pietermaritzburg in 44.31 seconds - qualifying him for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Pillay, 21, who lives in Benoni, said: “The feeling after the race went from extreme pain to sudden excitement and euphoria. I was really surprised by the time. I expected that the winner would have had to run sub 45 to win but I did not expect to dip beneath it by such a big margin. It is a massive honor to qualify for the individual 400m for the Olympics. My aim is to remain healthy and consistent going forward and putting my body in the best position to perform at my best."

He said he usually had up to seven training sessions a week and generally followed a healthy yet sustainable eating pattern.

Pillay said he started running when he joined Arbor Primary.

"And I fell in love with the sport."

He said his mum, Beverly Pillay, and uncle, Mervyn Edwards, inspired him.

"I am also inspired by local athletes like Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine."

Since the start of his running career, Pillay has many achievements.

“I was the South African under-15 boys 400m record holder; three-time South African Junior Champion in the 400m (2018-2022); African Youth 400m Champion (2019); Three-time world under-20 finalist (2021 and 2022); and world under-20, 400m Champion in 2022.

"In addition, I was the South African 400m Champ in 2024, and the second fastest 400m South African athlete in history after the world record holder Wayde van Niekerk."

Pillay said he was ranked 30th in the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

His next individual race is not yet confirmed, but he will compete as part of the men's 4x400m team at the World Relays Championships in the Bahamas next weekend.

Aside from sport, he enjoys playing video games when he is not consumed by studying toward his BCom in accounting at the University of Johannesburg.