Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk will return to action on Tuesday, while some of South Africa’s most accomplished track and field stars are hoping to deliver a double strike this week, as they gain further momentum on the European circuit.
On Tuesday, Van Niekerk will compete in his first international race of the season, as he continues his comeback from a lengthy injury hiatus. After recently being forced into self-isolation following a few positive coronavirus tests (though he remained asymptomatic throughout the process), his return to action had been set back by a month.
The 400m world record holder recently returned to full training, however, and he will line up in the one-lap race at the Gala dei Castelli meeting in Bellinzona, Switzerland, spearheading a South African quartet which also includes 100m sprinter Akani Simbine, long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and high hurdles specialist Antonio Alkana.
“My body is in good health, which I’m grateful for, and I’m looking forward to racing again,” said Van Niekerk. “We don’t have any goals for the meeting. I’m just excited to see how my body feels again in a race situation, and it will be nice to loosen up the legs.
“It will give us a good indication of where I am in my training, after having to spend 25 days in isolation, and we can then focus on what needs to be done to gain some momentum towards the 2021 season.”
While Van Niekerk will then return home to continue his long-term build-up to next year’s Tokyo Olympics, and there is no long jump event on the schedule for Samaai, Simbine and Alkana will hope for a quick turnaround, with both athletes featuring in the start lists for the Diamond League meeting in Rome, Italy on Thursday.
Simbine will line up in the men’s 100m race at the top-flight meeting and Alkana will turn out in the 110m hurdles contest.