Wayde van Niekerk celebrates after winning gold in the 400m at the 2017 World Championships in London. Photo: REUTERS/John Sibley

CAPE TOWN – With 2019 now underway, world athletics will be looking forward to the return of Wayde van Niekerk, the World and Olympic 400m champion and world record holder.

He was sidelined for all of 2018 after sustaining a serious knee injury in a touch rugby game at the end of 2017 - precisely the kind of activity world and Olympic 400m champions are generally advised against doing.

The 26-year-old South African hasn't raced since he finished second in the 200m at the World Championships in London on 10 August 2017, two days after successfully defending his 400m world crown. 

When he returns - very likely n September, he'll have his hands full with athletes who spent much of 2018 catching up: USA's Michael Norman, the world leader at 43.61; Bahamian Steven Gardiner, the 2017 world silver medallist who dipped under 44 seconds twice in 2018; and sub-44 man Fred Kerley of the USA, who spent his first professional season crafting his race en route to taking the IAAF Diamond League title. 

In the 200m, he'll have to deal with Noah Lyles, who ran faster than Van Niekerk's 19.84 career best in each of his five races last year.

African News Agency (ANA)

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