Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk (L) of South Africa shakes hands with Julian Jrummi Walsh (R) of Japan. Photo: EPA/John G. Mabanglo

Wayde van Niekerk: My golden years aren’t done!

South African athletics superstar Wayde van Niekerk has reiterated his belief that he can still achieve special things in his career.

Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk (L) of South Africa shakes hands with Julian Jrummi Walsh (R) of Japan. Photo: EPA/John G. Mabanglo

World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk recently made a confident return to the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, easily winning his 400m heat to qualify for the semi-finals.


South Africa’s 2016 Olympic gold medallist and twice world champion set a fast pace through the first half of the race before taking his foot off the accelerator to win in 45.18.

“I need to open up my legs a little bit to get my muscles going and see what I need to work on before I get to the semi-final,” Van Niekerk, who won back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2017 but missed 2019 due to injury, told media. “I feel much, much better but obviously my mentality is to get into the finals and see what happens.”


Wayde van Niekerk is competing well at the World Championship

Increasingly, there appear to be positive signs of Van Niekerk rediscovering his best form after an injury-plagued period in his career, which began with a freak accident in 2017 when he he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus cartilage during a charity touch rugby match at Newlands.

In an interview with the Daily Maverick, he has shared his belief that there is no reason to write him off just yet.

“Was I seen as someone who was going to break the 400m world record?” Van Niekerk asked Daily Maverick rhetorically.

“I know the route and direction to get back to where I was. I had injuries before then [Rio 2016]. In fact, I still have some of the same injuries I had when I broke the record.

“The knee injury I picked up in 2017 is perfectly fine. I’ve been struggling with other injuries that plagued me before. probably put too much energy and focus on one area and maybe neglected other areas. It’s about picking up the puzzle pieces and putting them back together.

“I mean, I was a world champion in 2015 and the camera couldn’t keep up with me in the final. Who’s to say when my golden years are done? I’ve proven to myself many times before that I’m capable of being the best. I know I’m the best, so it’s just about allowing my body to get back to its best,” he said.