Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
3 minute read
19 May 2016
8:08 pm

Olivier struck down ahead of Rio Games

Wesley Botton

'I just need four weeks of continuous training and I can head overseas to start competing.'

Andre Olivier in the mens 800m heats held at the Olympic Stadium in London, England on the 6th August 2012 ©Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

Middle-distance runner Andre Olivier hopes to return to training in the next few days, in order to launch the final phase of his qualifying campaign for the Rio Olympics.

Olivier had been pencilled in the provisional entry lists for the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai last week but withdrew due to a right foot injury, and he was again scratched from this weekend’s World Challenge meeting in Hengelo.

“They’ve done MRIs, X-rays and sonar scans, and there is inflammation in my foot but they don’t know what’s causing it,” the Commonwealth Games 800m bronze medallist said on Thursday.

Olivier said sports physician Dr Jon Patricios had tried injecting a different area of his foot with cortisone on Tuesday, hoping this would alleviate the problem after two previous attempts had yielded no results.

“I can’t run for a few days, but I hope this works so I can start training again next week,” he said.

“I just need four weeks of continuous training and I can head overseas to start competing.”

Olivier, who left Jean Verster’s camp in Potchefstroom last month to join new coach Johan Botha in Pretoria, was sidelined for the second half of the 2015 campaign with a torn ligament in his left foot, and returned from an eight-month layoff when he clocked 1:48.81 at a European Indoor Permit meeting in Ghent in February.

At the national championships in Stellenbosch last month, he set a season’s best of 1:47.79 in the heats but was halted by pain in his foot and dropped out of the final.

Though he ran a time of 1:45.73 in Hengelo a year ago, achieving the Olympic qualifying standard of 1:46.00, domestic criteria states all SA hopefuls must “prove their fitness” before the end of June in order to be considered for selection for the Games in August.

Meanwhile, with Olivier sidelined, 14 other SA athletes are due to compete at three international meetings this weekend.

Kicking things off on Friday night, LJ van Zyl (400m hurdles) and Nolene Conrad (3 000m) have been included in the start lists for the World Challenge meeting in Ostrava.

In Morocco on Sunday, six SA athletes are set to turn out at the third leg of the IAAF Diamond League series in Rabat, with the top flight campaign stopping on African soil for the first time.

The line-up includes in-form Olympic 800m silver medallist Caster Semenya and Commonwealth Games long jump bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai, as well as Antonio Alkana (110m hurdles), Dumisane Hlaselo (1 500m), Carina Horn (100m) and Wenda Nel (400m hurdles).

Elsewhere on Sunday, six SA athletes are listed among the entries for another World Challenge meeting in Hengelo.

Former national record holder Henricho Bruintjies is in the field for the men’s 100m sprint, with compatriots Rynardt van Rensburg (800m), Elroy Gelant (5 000m), Dylon Cotter (long jump), Victor Hogan (discus throw) and Alyssa Conley (200m) also taking part.

Former world junior long jump champion Luvo Manyonga had been included in the provisional start lists in Hengelo, but his name was later scratched by the organisers.

Manyonga’s camp at the Tuks-HPC said he had picked up a minor ankle injury and, like Olivier, was expected to return to training next week.