Sport / Athletics

Sport Staff
1 minute read
8 Mar 2017
12:35 pm

Wayde van Niekerk is back but don’t expect fireworks

Sport Staff

The Olympic champions warms up for a big season by competing in the 100m of the ASA speed series in Bloemfontein.

Wayde van Niekerk gets his new season underway in the 100. Photo: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images.

Olympic hotshot Wayde van Niekerk will run his first sprint of 2017 when he contests the 100m at Wednesday evening’s second leg of Athletics SA’s speed series in Bloemfontein.

But don’t expect much fireworks from the hometown hero.

Also read: Lightning Akani Simbine is the fastest man ever in South Africa

The 24-year-old, who claimed gold in Rio last year with his world record time in the 400m, is only competing in the short dash as part of his training for the new season.

Van Niekerk’s main focus will be on defending his 400m crown at London’s World Championships in August, while he’s also keen to compete more in the 200.

Another anti-climax is that he won’t necessarily have to fend off big competitors.

Akani Simbine, who last weekend set the fastest time ever for the 100m on South African soil, won’t be present in the City of Roses.

Ditto Anaso Jobodwana after he won the event during the first leg of the speed series in Durban.

Instead, Van Niekerk will line up against 18-year-old Gift Leotlela, who clocked 20.50 over 200m at the Varsity Cup meeting in Potchefstroom, and Emile Erasmus.

Erasmus finished second against Jobodwana two weeks ago.

Another attraction will be Luvo Manyonga.

The previously troubled long jumper wrote the perfect sporting fairy tale last year when he overcame drug addiction to claim silver at the Olympics.

Manyonga set a personal best of 8.48m in last year’s final IAAF meeting.

It wouldn’t be surprising if he sets world best this year on Wednesday – the best jump in 2017 to date is only 8.19m.

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