Wayde van Niekerk confirms that he’s running in Potch
CAPE TOWN - Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk says he is “excited to see how my body feels again in a race situation” after confirming his participation in the first athletics meeting in South Africa since Covid-19 stopped the sport in its tracks.
The Athletics Central North West will host an open track and field event at the NWU McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom on Tuesday, and Van Niekerk is taking the opportunity to gauge his fitness and progress since being laid low by Covid-19 in Italy a few months ago.
The 28-year-old tested positive, and then negative within a few days in August, but strict quarantine protocols meant that he wasn’t able to train for 25 days.
That affected his fitness and race schedule, and he only ran again in mid-September, winning a 400m race in Switzerland in 45.58 seconds.
He has been hard at work since his return home, though, and with Athletics South Africa allowing athletes to return to full training and competition from November 1, the 400m world record-holder is keen to get going again in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
“With me not being fully satisfied with my comeback this year due to me being diagnosed with Covid-19 and not being able to participate in the races I would’ve like to, I’m grateful to Athletics Northwest for hosting an event for athletes to compete competitively again,” Van Niekerk posted on his social media accounts on Monday.
“I am looking forward to competing tomorrow evening in the 400m event and excited to see how my body feels again in a race situation.
“This will give me a great indication to see where I am at in my training and what needs to be done to get into a positive momentum physically and mentally towards 2021. Time: 17:30 #QuietStorm #Pray1st #Forty3”
Athletics Central North West president Jean Verster told IOL Sport that no spectators will be allowed at the stadium, but he was delighted to see Van Niekerk in action.
“I saw now that Wayde is running. It’s good to see that the athletes can just compete again and that there are opportunities. It looks like the weather will play along and I just hope the guys get a race in.
“I guess you can’t expect too much from the first race, but let’s see how it goes. We will have meetings here every Tuesday for the next six weeks, so we hope that more and more athletes decide to come to Potch.”