'Jogging' Wayde claims another victory on comeback trail

 Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo)
Wayde van Niekerk (Gallo)

Bloemfontein - Olympic and two-time former world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk was praised by coach Ans Botha on Sunday after the latest victory in his comeback from a serious knee injury.

The 27-year-old South African clocked 47.42 seconds when finishing first in a Free State provincial championships 400m race in Bloemfontein this weekend.

While the time was far off the 43.03sec world record he set when winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Botha was thrilled with the performance.

"Wayde stopped running about 20 metres from the line and was just jogging. He could have run a 45 (seconds) race," the coach-cum-grandmother said.

Botha added that another stumbling block to a faster time were the chilly, overcast conditions in the central city.

"You cannot push too hard in this weather and we dare not take any risks with the (Tokyo) Olympics just five months away."

Cape Town-born Van Niekerk withdrew from the national championships in Johannesburg last year because of chilly conditions.

His latest victory was the fourth recent low-key win for him as he dreams of defending his Olympics 400m crown in Japan having missed the world championships in Doha last year.

He was hand timed at 10.20sec when winning a university 100m race on grass, then electronically clocked at 10.10sec (100m) and 20.31sec (200m) at a track meet.

Van Niekerk damaged his knee during October 2017 while playing in a celebrity touch rugby match that preceded a South Africa-New Zealand Test in Cape Town.

His recovery included time at medical facilities in the United States and Qatar, and there were several setbacks, including bruising of the knee.

The next track appearance of the two-time 400m world champion is likely to be a 200m race at a Cape Town meet on April 9.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
South Africa A 297/10
India A 198/5
loading... Live
Mpumalanga 0
Easterns 0
loading... Live
Limpopo 0
South Western Districts 0
loading... Live
Border 0
Northern Cape 0
Voting Booth
What are your views on the World Rugby men's Player of the Year nominations for 2021 not including any Springboks?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It's a disgrace! Both Siya Kolisi AND Eben Etzebeth should have been nominated!
39% - 5485 votes
Siya, at the very least, should have been included after a superb season
7% - 934 votes
Etzebeth has been SA's best player this year and should feel hard done by
20% - 2843 votes
Get over it! Moaning about this just sounds like sour grapes!
34% - 4689 votes