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Van Niekerk Wins First Race As Michael Johnson Doupts His Chances

Wayde Van Niekerk the World 400m record holder won his first race this year on come back trail in Bloemfontein on Monday. He finished first in 100m at an unofficial University meet on grass in an hand-timed 10.20s.

“It is good to be back running and I am satisfied with my time. Thanks again to everyone who has assisted in my recovery”, he said after the race.

Van Niekerk damaged his knee in October 2017 while playing a celebrity touch rugby match in Cape Town that preceded a Test between South Africa and New Zealand. His rehabilitation included medical treatment in the United States, Qatar and South Africa, where he’s coached by his grandmother, Ann Botha.

But speaking in Berlin at the weekend ahead of the Laurels Award Ceremony, Michael Johnson said it would be ” very difficult” for Van Niekerk to successfully defend his Olympics title. “An athlete who misses two season through an injury usually take one season to get back into shape”, said the four time Olympics Champion. ” It is mentally tough to stage a comeback in an Olympic year, especially when many of your rivals for medals are clocking really fast times. But he’s a special athlete, may be he may not follow the normal patterns of recovery”, added Johnson.

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