Wayde van Niekerk has been forced to scratch his second straight season, with his management team confirming he will not defend his 400m title at the IAAF World Championships in Doha next month.
Van Niekerk had not competed internationally since injuring his right knee in a charity touch rugby match, shortly after securing his second straight one-lap title at the 2017 World Championships in London.
Though he had been expected to return to action on the international circuit this season, however, after making a one-off appearance to win the Free State provincial title in Bloemfontein in February, his comeback was delayed as a precautionary measure after he aggravated the injury during a training session in June.
He had since undergone further rehabilitation on his knee, which had previously required surgery, and his medical team had advised him to withdraw from the upcoming global showpiece, an event for which he automatically qualified as the defending champion.
“My main goal is to look after my body and when the opportunity comes, I’ll take it,” Van Niekerk said.
“For now I’m not rushing myself or putting pressure on myself. I’m happy with where I am.”
His doctor, Louis Holtzhausen, was equally positive about Van Niekerk’s future return to the track, with his long-term goal now shifting to the defence of his Olympic title in Tokyo next year.
Van Niekerk, who set the 400m world record of 43.03 to win Olympic gold in Rio three years ago, was back at training this week with coach Ans Botha at his European base in Gemona.
“He has successfully returned to track training,” his doctor, Louis Holtzhausen, confirmed.
“All indications are that he will recover more rapidly from now on.”