Wayde van Niekerk’s Comeback Gathers Pace with 2 More Wins

Wayde van Niekerk’s return to full fitness gathered momentum as he won another two races, this time in the 100 and 200m, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, at the weekend.

South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk
File photo. South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates winning the mens’ 400m event during the Diamond League athletics meeting Athletissima in Lausanne on July 6, 2017 / Fabrice COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Four years ago the South African superstar smashed the Olympic and world 400m records of 43.18 set by American Michael Johnson in 1999 when he clocked 43.03 at Rio and last week he expressed his satisfaction with his comeback performance in Bloemfontein, his first race in public this year.

‘It is good to be back running and I am satisfied with my time. Thanks again to everyone who has assisted in my recovery,’ he had said after a hand-timed 10.20sec in a 100m race on grass last week. On Saturday he went faster than that.

Van Niekerk had damaged a knee during October 2017 while playing a celebrity touch rugby match in Cape Town that preceded a Test between South Africa and New Zealand. His rehabilitation included medical treatment in the United States, Qatar and South Africa, where he is coached by ‘Tannie’ Ans Botha.

On Saturday he continued his progress, running the 100m in 10.10sec, again in Bloemfontein.

In his second appearance since returning from a layoff of more than two years, after picking up a knee injury during a charity touch rugby game in September 2017, the sprinter won the men’s 200m race in 20.31 in his first half-lap sprint of the year at a small domestic meeting.

The 27-year-old is expected to turn out again at the Free State provincial championships next week, where he was likely to compete in the 400m event in order to qualify for the national championships, which is mandatory for selection for Team SA team for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.