JOHANNESBURG – Wayde van Niekerk made his long-awaited return to the track last week backing into the blocks for the first time in over a year.
The world 400m record-holder won the Free State Championships title in the one-lap event posting a time of 47.28 seconds in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
He crossed the line ahead of former Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion and training partner Cornel Fredericks, who finished second in 47.50. The 26-year-old made his return last Monday at a University of Free State hostel meeting where he won both the 400m and 800m.
Van Niekerk has been out of action for nearly a year and a half after he sustained a knee injury in a celebrity tag rugby match in October 2017.
The Olympic champion has been treated by some of the world’s best medical experts with world-renowned complex knee specialist doctor Robert LaPrade overseeing the operation.
He has made regular trips to Doha for rehabilitation under the guidance of Dr Louis Holtzhausen, who looked after Van Niekerk in Bloemfontein for years.
Below – Van Niekerk posted the following picture of a training session late last month:
Stay true. @GideonSmg pic.twitter.com/AV9xbYFIWA
— Wayde van Niekerk (@WaydeDreamer) January 30, 2019
Van Niekerk won double medals at the 2017 World Championships in London before his season was cut short.
He missed out on the 2018 Commonwealth Games while Clarence Munyai has usurped him of his South African 200m record during his time off the track.
Van Niekerk will be looking to get back to his best ahead of this year’s World Championships in Doha where he will be looking to win his third consecutive 400m title.
@WaydeDreamer wow dude, we were never ready for your come back. Free State Championship over the weekend. In excited for the athletics season ahead #WaydeVanNiekerk pic.twitter.com/FdDl9XsZEP
— Brian Lebogang Maaga 🌈 (@maagarash) February 25, 2019
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