Cape Town: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi died when his car overturned at a curve on a regional road in Mpumalanga province in the early hours of Friday, South African authorities said on Saturday.
The death of the former world 800 metres champion and Olympic silver medalist at the age of 34 drew tributes from around the country, with President Jacob Zuma offering his personal condolences to the family.
The details of the accident emerged on Saturday and suggest Mulaudzi lost control of his vehicle while travelling though Mpumalanga in the east of the country, heading for an Athletics South Africa meeting in Johannesburg.
"He was travelling from the Ogies direction towards Emalahleni using the R555 road," Mpumalanga community safety department Spokesperson Joseph Mabuza told the South African Press Association.
"Towards Emalahleni, there is a curve and he lost control of the vehicle which overturned and he unfortunately died. He was the only occupant in the car."
President Zuma led the tributes to Mulaudzi on Friday night in a statement released by his office.
"The nation has lost a true hero and one of our most disciplined and talented athletes who flew the South African flag across the sporting world," said Zuma.
"We wish to convey, on behalf of the Government and the entire nation, our heartfelt condolences to his family, ASA (Athletics South Africa), the South African sports fraternity and the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."
IOC President Thomas Bach offered the IOC`s "sympathies go to his family and friends, and to the whole sports family of the rainbow nation of South Africa. "Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was a true Olympian and a fine athlete. A world champion, with seven Olympic medals, he was an athlete who always showed huge commitment to his craft," Bach said in a statement.
"He proudly represented his new nation around the world, and at home his successes inspired a new generation of young people to take up sport. He will be missed by the Olympic family. "
Mulaudzi, who carried the South African flag in the opening ceremony at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, won his silver medal at the same Games having picked up a Commonwealth gold in Manchester two years earlier.
He was ranked the top 800 metres runner in the world in 2006 and after overcoming a succession of injuries, won the 2009 world championship title in Berlin.
He retired from athletics in 2013.