Cape Town - “Tough times never tough people do.”
That was how Wayde van Niekerk captioned his latest Instagram post after winning his 400m race in Jamaica at the weekend, and those words couldn't be truer for the 30-year-old track star at the moment.
The 2016 Rio Olympic champion and world record-holder has had last! Only such a torrid time in recent years that one wondered whether he would be really competitive ever again, never mind challenging his own personal best of 43.03 seconds.
But after hard work following a 2017 knee injury, it seems as if Van Niekerk is back on the road to the top. He ran a time of 44.17 at the South African championships in Potchefstroom in April, which was his quickest time since 2017.
The Diamond League organisers had already announced in April that he would participate in the Oslo meeting on June 15, but it was unclear when he would compete again after the SA champs.
But he announced on his Instagram account last week that he would run at the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston last Saturday night.
Starting out in a typically relaxed fashion, Van Niekerk maintained a steady pace over the first 200m, although he still managed to go past some of the other athletes in the outside lane.
Once he neared the final bend, he stormed to a new meeting record of 44.21 seconds – not far off his 44.17 in April.
“I was just trying to execute the race plan. The plan was to attack the last 120m, so when I got there, I wanted to make sure to put a good effort in, and I think it went well,” Van Niekerk was quoted as saying on the World Track website afterwards.
“This is a consistent start and a positive to work towards. This positive momentum gives me a solid foundation to build upon.”
“Thank you Jamaica, my family and I had a lovely experience … 44.21 and Meeting record. One Love #QuietStorm” Van Niekerk added on Instagram.
The next goal for him may be the 400m world lead of 43.91, set by Zambia's Muzala Samukonga, which is ahead of the second-placed Van Niekerk's 44.17.