Elite long-distance runner Riana van Niekerk has died after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
“Riana died at 4pm. She fought like the champ she is,” her husband, Allie, posted on social media on Saturday.
Last year, while in final preparation for her attempt at a fifth Comrades Marathon gold medal, Van Niekerk was diagnosed with the disease.
After six months of chemotherapy, and having parts of her gallbladder and pancreas removed, Allie revealed last month the treatment had not been successful, and she was due to start a new round of chemo sessions.
Aside from her Comrades performances, Van Niekerk also earned three gold medals at the prestigious Two Oceans 56km race.
The 39-year-old athlete, a former SA marathon champion, boasted career victories at the Om Die Dam, Loskop and City2City ultra-marathons.