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WATCH: Wayde van Niekerk makes welcome return to winners’ circle

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk made a welcome return to the winners’ circle with an impressive victory in 44.58 seconds in the men’s 400m over the weekend. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk made a welcome return to the winners’ circle with an impressive victory in 44.58 seconds in the men’s 400m over the weekend. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Jul 5, 2022

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Centurion - South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk made a welcome return to the winners’ circle with an impressive victory in 44.58 seconds in the men’s 400m at the Stars & Stripes Classic in Marietta, Georgia, over the weekend.

It was the 29-year-old’s first victory in over a year and his second fastest time since returning from knee surgery in 2017. Van Niekerk is the world record holder in the men’s 400m, with the 43.03 he ran to claim gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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Since then, he has battled with the knee injury he picked up in late-2017. His performance in the US on Saturday, however, bodes well for the future.

Van Niekerk tweeted after the race that his results are beginning to show after the hard work he has put in: “Blessed weekend and a positive step forward. Grateful for finishing my race healthy and looking forward to the next. Thank you for all your love and support.”

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In fact, Van Niekerk ran the same time when he finished first at the Gala dei Castelli athletics meeting in Bellinzona, Switzerland, in September 2020. That was his first race since the 2017 World Championship in London.

The 400m world record holder’s career will forever be divided into two parts - before and after October 2017.

Then injury struck. The one that divides his career down the middle. At the time he was the reigning Olympic and world champion, but his decision to take part in a charity touch rugby match soon brought his career to a standstill. Van Niekerk sustained medial and lateral tears in his meniscus and tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Surgery would follow, and it finally seems as Van Niekerk leaves his 20s behind he may be able to stage a late career resurgence.

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The timing of his latest win is good, as the World Athletics Championships begin in Oregon, USA, on July 15 - the day Van Niekerk celebrates his 30th birthday.

@Golfhackno1

IOL Sport

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