A “false positive” coronavirus test has delayed Wayde van Niekerk’s long-awaited return to the track – but he will not let the setback get him down.
CAPE TOWN – A “false positive” coronavirus test has delayed Wayde van Niekerk’s long-awaited return to the track – but he will not let the setback get him down.
The 400m Olympic champion and world record-holder was scheduled to return to the athletics track at a meeting in Trieste, Italy following a lengthy break due to the coronavirus, which ended the South African season prematurely and forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021.
Before Covid-19 struck, Van Niekerk was making his way back after a nearly two-year absence following a serious knee injury during a touch rugby match at Newlands in October 2017.
The 28-year-old from Bloemfontein was able to make his way to his home away from home in Gemona, Italy for a training camp on July 19, in order to prepare for a revised European season over the next three months.
But after entering the 100m and 400m races in Trieste on Saturday night, Van Niekerk’s attempts to compete were undone by what is suspected to be a “false positive” coronavirus test.
His manager, Peet van Zyl, told IOL Sport from Italy on Sunday that Van Niekerk and the rest of the South African contingent in Gemona – long jumper Ruswahl Samaai, 110m hurdler Antonio Alkana, and coaches Ans Botha and Jenny Kingwill – all had three negative coronavirus test results since their arrival in the country.
But with the fourth test last week, Van Niekerk was the only one to receive a positive result. Subsequently, though, a fifth test had a negative outcome, which he thought cleared him to run on Saturday night.
Van Zyl added that Van Niekerk then had a blood test after that, and was withdrawn shortly before the event started as a precautionary measure.
“We are all in isolation, not mixing with other people and staying on a separate floor. We even have our meals alone,” Van Zyl said. “We will follow the protocol here, and then decide when Wayde will next race.”
“We are all back in Gemona at our base, and everyone is healthy,” Van Zyl said.