Wayde van Niekerk would want to show that he is ready for the world stage after his long injury-enforced break. Photo: Andy Rain/EPA

JOHANNESBURG – Wayde van Niekerk is expected to make his return to the South African Senior Track and Field Championships where he will line up in his specialist 400m event in Germiston over the weekend.

He made a low-key return at the Free State Championships in February after nearly a year-and-a-half out due to a knee injury.

Van Niekerk clocked 47.28 seconds which is more than four seconds away from the world record of 43.03 he clocked at the Rio Olympic Games.

But the two-time world champion said not too much should be read in the time as he approached it as a “training run”.

“It was more a training run, that was our mentality to get out there and test the waters a bit in terms of competitive scenery and get some training in on the track itself,” Van Niekerk said. “So, it went from a training session to a viral comeback, so I guess I have to accept my reality on that, but I would have liked my comeback to look way better than that.”

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He sustained medial and lateral tears of the meniscus, as well as a torn anterior cruciate ligament during a tag rugby match in October 2017.

Van Niekerk missed the 2018 season which included the South African Championships and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Two years ago Van Niekerk raced to victory in the 200m at the national championships in Potchefstroom. But Van Niekerk has opted for the 400-metre race for this year’s event.

Should he reclaim a fraction of his form from 2017, Van Niekerk could be in line for his fifth 400m national title.

Van Niekerk will be aware of a host of Young Turks that will come after his crown. Over the weekend rising American star Michael Norman made his season’s debut with a blistering 43.45 seconds.

His time was the sixth-fastest of all time and the fastest season opener.

Meanwhile, the South African championships could see a few athletics stalwarts reach impressive milestones.

Olympic javelin throw silver medallist Sunette Viljoen will chase her 13th national title in her specialist event.

The 45-year-old Chris Harmse will look to continue his vice-grip like hold on the men’s hammer throw.

Harmse is eyeing a record 24th consecutive national title which he has won every year since 1996.

The three-day championships will kick-off today and finish on Saturday.

@ockertde


The Star

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