Due to his passport and visa to travel to the United States being late, Wayde van Niekerk will be able to compete at the South African athletics champions this week.
CAPE TOWN – Wayde van Niekerk is still awaiting his passport and visa to travel to the United States, and that is why he will be able to compete at the South African athletics championships in Pretoria this week.
The general manager for the Free State athletics team, Dirk van Rensburg, confirmed to IOL Sport on Wednesday that the 400m Olympic champion will be participating in the 200m at the TUKS Sport Stadium over the next few days.
“He is going to take part in the SA championships. He is only going to run in the 200m, and not the 400m. He is not going to do any relays either,” Van Rensburg said.
“It is very good news for us (as the Free State team) – at least we can hope for a gold! We will be holding thumbs. He will have strong competition, as there are a number of guys who were competing the last time in Roodepoort.”
The 200m heats are scheduled to start on Friday at 10.15am, with the semi-finals on the same day at 1.40pm. The final will take place on Saturday at 6.35pm.
Van Niekerk’s manager, Peet van Zyl, told IOL Sport earlier in the week that his client’s travel documents had been approved by the US authorities, and that he was waiting for the passport to arrive.
But on Wednesday, Van Zyl responded with a brief one-liner: “No passport with the visa yet from the US.”
The delay is a blow to Van Niekerk’s wish to get to the United States as soon as possible, where he was going to link up with 200m world champion Noah Lyles’ training group in Florida, under the watchful eye of his new coach, Lance Brauman.
The women’s Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, of the Bahamas, is also part of the group.
The 28-year-old is leaving Bloemfontein for the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics in a bid for a fresh campaign to lower his 400m world record of 43.03 seconds, having battled with injuries and Covid-19 over the last few years.
Van Niekerk posted a cartoon likeness of himself – based on The Simpsons – on his Instagram account this week, with a board reading ‘Welcome to Springfield’, and a caption that stated: “Coming to America.”
But now he will have to wait a bit longer before being able to travel.
He is in good form in the 200m, though, after clocking a superb 20.10 to claim victory over his friend Akani Simbine in Roodepoort on March 30 – with his coach Brauman advising him to only run in the half-lap event at this stage of the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.