No Wayde van Niekerk, Henricho Bruintjies, but Team SA eye athletics medals at Commonwealth Games

Wayde van Niekerk won’t be at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: CJ Gunther

Wayde van Niekerk won’t be at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: CJ Gunther

Published Jul 26, 2022


Cape Town – Wayde van Niekerk will not be part of Team South Africa’s bid for medals at the Commonwealth Games, which kicks off in Birmingham on Thursday.

The athletics competition starts with the men’s and women’s marathons on Saturday, with the men’s 400m heats taking place next week Wednesday at the Alexander Stadium.

But Van Niekerk confirmed on social media this week – following his fifth-place finish in the 400m world championship final in Eugene, Oregon last week – that he won’t be in Birmingham.

“For those who have interest in my next competitions: I was unfortunately not selected to represent South Africa at the Commonwealth Games this time around, so we shift our minds to the later part of the season and finish the season off healthy. Looking forward to putting in some good work. WE MOVING UP!!!!!!!” the 400m world record-holder posted.

The 30-year-old had not run a qualifying time, or any 400m race in fact, before the cut-off date in June, which means that only Zakithi Nene will line up in the one-lap race in Birmingham.

Van Niekerk completed his first 400m event of the season on July 2 in Marietta, Georgia, where he produced a solid time of 44.58 seconds to prove his fitness ahead of the world championships.

At Hayfield Field in Oregon, he ran times of 45.18, 44.75 and 44.97 in the heat, semi-final and final respectively, which was an excellent outcome considering his injury problems over the last few years, so he would have been a medal contender at the Commonwealth Games as well.

But Team SA will be expecting a few podium finishes from the athletics team once again, after they accounted for 14 of the 37 medals in total from the 2018 Games in Gold Coast, Australia (13 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze).

Akani Simbine will headline that quest as he returns as the defending champion in the 100m, while he was also part of the 4x100m relay group that grabbed silver four years ago.

But he won’t have 100m silver medallist and relay team member Henricho Bruintjies alongside him, after the latter announced his withdrawal last week following his omission from the relay final quartet at the world championships.

Team SA are still awaiting communication from Athletics SA on a possible replacement, but the relay squad will be well served by Simbine, Gift Leotlela, Emile Erasmus and Clarence Munyai, who clocked 38.10 seconds to finish sixth in the Oregon final and will aim for a medal in Birmingham.

Another world champs finalist was 200m star Luxolo Adams, who has been selected for Birmingham as well, while 800m youngster Prudence Sekgodiso will look to improve on her semi-final finish in Oregon.

Shot put Olympic finalist Kyle Blignaut missed the world champs to ensure he is in the best possible shape for Birmingham, so he will also be going all out for a podium spot.

Team SA Athletics Squad

Men: Akani Simbine (100m/4x100m relay), Emile Erasmus (4x100m), Gift Leotlela (4x100m), Clarence Munyai (100m/4x100m), Luxolo Adams (200m/4x100m), Zakithi Nene (400m), Tshepo Tshite (800m), Ryan Mphahlele (1 500m), Adriaan Wildschutt (5 000m/10 000m), Sokwakhana Zazini (400m hurdles), Kyle Blignaut (shot put), Tshepang Makhethe (hammer throw), Jovan van Vuuren (long jump), Cheswill Johnson (long jump), Kyle Rademeyer (pole vault).

Women: Marioné Fourie (100m hurdles), Prudence Sekgodiso (800m), Dominique Scott (10 000m), Zeney van der Walt (400m hurdles/4x400m relay), Miranda Coetzee (4x400m), Gontse Morake (4x400m), Taylon Bieldt (4x400m), Shirley Nekhubui (4x400m), Yolandi Stander (discus), Jo-Ane van Dyk (javelin).

Coaches: Shaun Bownes, Adam Motlagale, Pierre Blignaut. Manager: Tshifhiwa Makhoshi.