Athletics

Wayde van Niekerk ready to lead SA stars in Europe

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Wayde van Niekerk
Wayde van Niekerk
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
  • After a false start last month, Wayde van Niekerk will finally return to international athletics this week.
  • Van Niekerk would have raced in Italy last month but a positive coronavirus test saw that postponed.
  • He will make his return in a 400m event in Switzerland.

Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk will finally return to international action when he competes in the 400m event at the Gala dei Castelli meeting in Bellinzona, Switzerland on Tuesday.

Van Niekerk returns from a lengthy injury hiatus following a serious knee injury. Although he has raced in South Africa since his return from injury, his first international event was meant to be in Italy last month. 

That, however, was scuppered by a positive coronavirus test, although he remained asymptomatic throughout. 

Van Niekerk has made a strong recovery and cannot wait to hit the track.

"My body is in good health, which I'm grateful for, and I'm looking forward to racing again," said Van Niekerk.

"We don't have any goals for the meeting. I'm just excited to see how my body feels again in a race situation, and it will be nice to loosen up the legs.

"It will give us a good indication of where I am in my training, after having to spend 25 days in isolation, and we can then focus on what needs to be done to gain some momentum towards the 2021 season."

Van Niekerk is currently in Europe with a number of other South African athletes, including 100m sprinter Akani Simbine, long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and high hurdles specialist Antonio Alkana.

Van Niekerk will return home to continue his long-term build-up to next year's Tokyo Olympics.

While there is no long jump event on the schedule for Samaai, Simbine and Alkana will hope for a quick turnaround, with both athletes featuring in the start lists for the Diamond League meeting in Rome, Italy on Thursday.

Simbine will line up in the men's 100m race at the top-flight meeting, while Alkana will turn out in the 110m hurdles contest.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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