Wayde van Niekerk awaiting US clearance, may still run in ASA’s Joburg season opener
CAPE TOWN – There is still an outside chance that Wayde van Niekerk will open his Olympic year in South Africa.
The 400m world record-holder announced recently that he will be moving to the United States to train under American coach Lance Brauman – who has 200m world champion Noah Lyles and 400m women’s Olympic winner Shaunae Miller-Uibo in his group – after parting ways with his veteran mentor ‘Tannie’ Ans Botha in Bloemfontein.
No date has been set for Van Niekerk’s departure to the USA, and Van Niekerk’s agent Peet van Zyl told Independent Media this week that his star client is still in Mzansi.
Van Niekerk has been training in Bloemfontein and Cape Town over the last few weeks, and has posted regular videos and photos on his Instagram page.
Asked whether that means the 28-year-old would participate in Athletics SA’s Athletix Invitational Meet in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Van Zyl said “(it) all depends on when we get Wayde’s clearance documents to travel to the US”, adding that the situation was out of their hands.
So, if Van Niekerk doesn’t receive the necessary documentation before Tuesday, he could join the likes of fellow Olympians such as Akani Simbine and Sunette Viljoen, as well as Botswana 400m star Isaac Makwala at the Ruimsig Athletics Stadium in Roodepoort.
Athletics South Africa announced on Saturday that Simbine will face emerging star Luxolo Adams in the 100m race, while Makwala will be challenged by 18-year-old Joburg athlete and KES deputy head boy Lythe Pillay, who ran 45.53 seconds last week.
Another top athlete who has confirmed her presence at Tuesday’s event is former 400m women’s world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana.
Rio Olympic silver medallist Viljoen, who has a season’s best of 60.60m, will have serious competition in the javelin event from the Czech Republic’s Nikola Ogrodnikova, who has a personal best of 67.40m and won silver at the 2018 European Championships.
The event starts at 3pm on Tuesday, and will be live-streamed on the TelkomONE service and broadcast on SABC.