Running in Potch can help van Niekerk get into international racing mode
CAPE TOWN - Wayde van Niekerk has a need for speed – so watch out, Potchefstroom.
The 400m Olympic champion and world record-holder will line up for two races at the NWU McArthur Stadium on Tuesday in the second league meeting organised by Athletics Central North West since the sport returned from the coronavirus lockdown this month.
Last week, Van Niekerk was pushed all the way by Zakithi Nene before winning in 45.89 seconds, and spoke about how he was “far from satisfied” with his performance.
But there was some drama, as he slipped after his starting blocks broke as he set off. Fortunately he avoided injury, and he said afterwards that he was contemplating running another 400m race this week.
On Monday, though, he posted on social media that he will participate in the 60m (4.20pm) and 150m (5.50pm) sprints this time around: “Another opportunity to test my body... Let’s get some speed going.”
Following his win last week, the 28-year-old said that he was using the Potchefstroom events to get back into competition mode ahead of next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I need to get some races in my legs, just to get that nerves and that momentum into my mind and my body so that I can get back to that racing scenario, and get that emotions back so that I’m prepped for next year,” said Van Niekerk
“I’m looking forward to the next few races, and hopefully I can more challenges like that to mentally get myself past the barrier that I’m trying to break through, to get myself obviously into that international sphere, because I haven’t competed in the longest of time.”
Meanwhile, star marathon runner Gerda Steyn will also make a rare appearance on the track in Potchefstroom. The reigning champion in the Comrades and Two Oceans marathons is doing some speed work at the moment as she gears up for Tokyo.
She recently finished seventh at the London Marathon in a personal best time of two hours, 26 minutes and 51 seconds (2:26.51), which was only 16 seconds shy of the South African record of 2:26.35, set by Colleen de Reuck in 1996.
Steyn will run in the 5 000m race in Potchefstroom, having set a new course record in a local 10km road race in Alberton on Sunday.
“Such a fun morning out on the streets of Alberton!!! Nice ‘Flat’ run today hehehe!! (I’m talking strictly Joburg terms). Well done to everyone and also to the race organizers! How we’ve missed mornings like these!” the ever smiling 30-year-old said on Instagram afterwards.
“It was great to see so many joyous runners out there! I am satisfied with my time of 34:23 and a new course record.
“It has taken me a bit longer than usual to recover after running London Marathon, not sure if it’s my age – or perhaps because of all the uncertainty and having an empty race calendar, but today has certainly added a spark to the flame again.
“And now I am looking forward to dialling back in!! Thanks for all the cheers and support, see you all at the next one!!”