Triumphant return as Wayde coasts to victory

Wayde van Niekerk is on the comeback trail. Picture: Gallo Images

South African sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine won their races in Bellinzona.

Wayde van Niekerk made a solid comeback on Tuesday night, coasting to victory in his first international race in more than three years.

Following a lengthy injury hiatus, and another brief setback after he tested positive for Covid-19 last month, the 400m world record holder eased his way back into action at a European Tour meeting in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

He covered the one-lap distance in 45.58 seconds, holding off Dutch athlete Jochem Dobber by 0.20 to take the win.

It was Van Niekerk’s fastest 400m time since he was sidelined by a serious injury after winning his second world title in 2017.

Meanwhile, national record holder Akani Simbine continued to build momentum on the European circuit, winning the men’s 100m race in Bellinzona in 10.02.

Simbine shook off a challenge from fellow World Championships finalist Filippo Tortu of Italy, who took second place in 10.07, with the South African sprinter clocking his fastest time since the 2020 season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

In the long jump event, though he led until the final round with a leap of 8.04m, Ruswahl Samaai settled for second place, with Finnish athlete Kristian Pulli snatching victory after landing at 8.08m with his last jump.

In the men’s 110m hurdles race, Antonio Alkana displayed his best form of the season, taking third place in a blanket finish in 13.40.

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