Cape Town’s very own Wayde Van Niekerk has once again made South Africa proud with his performance in Switzerland on Tuesday, September 15. The Olympic champion won the 400m event at the Gala dei Castelli meet in Bellinzona, Switzerland, which was his first international race in three years.
This was the 28-year-old’s first event since the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to all athletics activities, and his return was also delayed by a false positive when tested for the virus. However, he was tested twice more and turned up a negative result each time.
This, however, resulted in Van Niekerk being isolated while training in Gemona, Italy for 25 days before he was cleared by Italian authorities to train outdoors. Van Niekerk participated in two events on Tuesday evening – one was a 200m and the second the 400m race where he placed first.
He completed the sprint in just 45.58 seconds. Dutch athlete Jochem Dobber came in second with 45.78 seconds and Karol Zalewski of Poland in third with 46.03 seconds.
While Van Niekerk’s time wasn’t the fastest by world standards, it was a breakthrough for the athlete as he will begin training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He will return to South Africa to plan the next phase of his training programme.
“We have a coloured athlete who holds the world record in 400m sprints. His name is Wayde van Niekerk Reminder he didn’t just run for his family, he ran for all of us,” a proud social media user said.
“His strength and resilience is a reminder to all that perseverance and hard work can overcome all odds,” another said.
“When I feel down I watch Wayde Van Niekerk’s record-breaking 400m run at 2016 Olympic games, utter perfection man,” another said.
Picture: Wayde Van Niekerk/Facebook