Wayde van Niekerk won gold and silver medals at the world championships in London in 2017, and hopes to be back at the 2019 edition in Doha, Qatar. Photo: Andy Rain/EPA

PRETORIA – World 400m world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk’s coach Ans Botha is optimistic that he will be back in action in 2019 after two years of hell in which he underwent surgery in the United States at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.

Van Niekerk, the world and Olympic one-lap champion, picked up medial and lateral tears of the meniscus, as well as a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), while participating in a celebrity touch rugby match in Cape Town back in 2017.

Following surgery, he underwent rehabilitation for six months, and was unavailable to represent South Africa at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April.

But Botha said this week he should be fit enough for competitive action in 2019.

Speaking to Netwerk24, ‘Tannie Ans’ was optimistic that a return to action was not far away, with the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar in September next year a clear goal. 

“It is a situation that we need to manage with extreme care,” the 76-year-old Botha said.

“I don’t want to make any predictions, but at this stage, we are positive that he will be able to get his first few races when the European season begins (in their summer).”

Botha confirmed that Van Niekerk did still feel some discomfort in his knee at times, but that the initial pain that accompanied the injury had disappeared. 

“Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to have a break over the Christmas and New Year because we cannot afford to lose time,” Botha added.

African News Agency (ANA)