Wayde van Niekerk set for a return to the track in Italy

Alkana (centre) with long jumper Ruswahl Samaai (left) and sprinter Wayde van Niekerk after arriving at a training camp in Gemona last month. Picture: In-Site Athlete Managament

World record holder Wayde van Niekerk is among a small group of South Africans who will spend at least three months training and competing in Europe.

While elite South African athletes have been cleared to return to training on home soil, some of the country’s top track and field stars have opted to return to their part-time base in Gemona, Italy for the remainder of the European summer.

With local competitions still suspended, sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, long jumper Ruswahl Samaai and hurdler Antonio Alkana aimed to take advantage of the northern hemisphere conditions.

The trio were also expected to be joined by Commonwealth Games 100m champion Akani Simbine early next month.

The quartet hoped to compete in a few events, with athletics competitions starting to make a comeback on the
international circuit.

World 400m record holder Van Niekerk, whose impressive comeback from a lengthy injury hiatus earlier this year was put on hold by the Covid-19 pandemic, said he looked forward to taking another step forward in the early build-up to his title defence at next year’s
Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m happy to be back in Gemona, which has become like a second home to me,” Van Niekerk said on Monday.

The versatile speedster confirmed he was injury free, and he was eager to return to the track.

According to reports, he was expected to compete at a meeting in Trieste on August 1.

“I’m grateful to be healthy, and I’m hoping to get in a few races if possible, as we start to prepare for a full return to competition when coronavirus restrictions allow.”

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