Getty Images

Wayde van Niekerk to miss all of 2018

Leave a comment

Wayde van Niekerk, the Olympic and world 400m champion and world-record holder, will not race in 2018 as he continues to work his way back from October meniscus and ACL tears.

“There’s no way he’s going to compete this year,” Van Niekerk’s agent said Wednesday, confirming a Daily Mail report. “His rehab is going great. He’s in really good shape. The injury is healed properly and all that, but between the coach and himself, we’re not going to let him race this year. There’s no major championships this year or anything.”

Van Niekerk is expected to return to normal training on the track in July, his agent said.

This is the one year in the four-year Olympic cycle without a world outdoor championships or Olympic Games. Van Niekerk has already missed one of the biggest competitions of 2018, last month’s Commonwealth Games. The Diamond League regular season will be past the midway point once Van Niekerk returns to training, so sitting out the rest of the year is hardly a surprise.

Van Niekerk, who last raced Aug. 10, suffered the knee injuries in a celebrity tag rugby match on Oct. 7 and underwent surgery.

“His coach wasn’t happy about that [it happening at a tag rugby match],” Van Niekerk’s agent said then. Van Niekerk is famously coached by Ans Botha, a great-grandmother.

Before the injury, Van Niekerk was hoping to race both the 100m and 200m at the Commonwealth Games after attempting a 200m-400m double at the 2017 World Championships (earning gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m).

Van Niekerk is the only man in history to run sub-44 for the 400m, sub-20 for the 200m and sub-10 for the 100m.

He was well off his best times at 2017 Worlds, winning the 400m in 43.98 seconds, albeit decelerating near the finish with the race easily won. In Rio, Van Niekerk clocked the world record 43.03.

And in the 200m, Van Niekerk was overtaken by Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev in the final straightaway, losing by .02. He recorded 20.11, well off the 19.84 he ran two months earlier, albeit Van Niekerk could have been significantly slowed by exhaustion at worlds.

Van Niekerk, who turns 26 on July 15, may still have time on his side. Michael Johnson‘s fastest 400m time came at nearly age 32.

In Van Niekerk’s absence, a new star may be emerging. Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas ran 43.87 on May 4, the second-fastest time ever that early in a year. Gardiner then clocked 43.99 last Saturday, becoming the first man to break 44 seconds twice in a season before June.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Niekerk sees different double in his future, or none at all

Barshim, Thiam earn IAAF top honors; Bolt earn’s president’s award

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Neither Mo Farah nor Wayde van Niekerk was the IAAF’s world athlete of the year for 2017. Instead, that honor went to Mutaz Barshim of Qatar.

Bolt was honored instead with the President’s Award, which “recognizes and honors great service to athletics.”

Barshim, a high jumper, won the Diamond League title for the year and owns nine of the best 11 jumps in the world for 2017. He was the first high jumper to leap 2.40m or longer in five consecutive seasons. He was undefeated this season across 11 competitions, capped by the world championships. IAAF President Seb Coe presented Barshim’s trophy.

Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam was the female winner, after winning last year’s Female Rising Star Award. She won gold at the Rio Olympics in the heptathlon, and followed it up this year with the world championship title. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco presented Thiam with the award.

“We celebrate your amazing contributions to a phenomenal year of athletics,” Coe said in a speech, according to an IAAF press release. “I’m particularly excited by the young generation of talent which so dramatically came of age on the world stage in 2017. Athletics looks forward to a strong and exciting future safe in your hands.”

The other awards were presented to:

Karsten Warholm, Norway, 400m hurdles – Male Rising Star award

Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela, triple jump – Female Rising Star award

Anna Botha – Coaching Achievement award (she is best known for coaching van Niekerk)

Cherry Alexander, managing director for the IAAF World Championships London 2017 – Women in Athletics award

Paul Sanwell, photographer – Athletics Photograph of the Year award (for his photo of Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles semifinal at the world championships)

More: Emma Coburn, Sam Kendricks win USATF Athlete of the Year awards

Wayde van Niekerk out 6 months after rugby injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wayde van Niekerk, the Olympic and world 400m champion and world-record holder, is expected to be sidelined until at least April with a torn meniscus and ACL suffered in a celebrity tag rugby match on Oct. 7.

“His coach wasn’t happy about that [it happening at a tag rugby match],” Van Niekerk’s agent said Tuesday. Van Niekerk is famously coached by Ans Botha, a great-grandmother.

Van Niekerk is undergoing surgery Tuesday after getting married this past weekend.

He is out through at least the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in early April.

The Commonwealth Games are the biggest meet for many countries next year, including Van Niekerk’s South Africa.

Van Niekerk, after taking gold and silver in the 400m and 200m at words in August, spoke of potentially trying the 100m-200m double at Commonwealths.

“I was looking forward to competing in the 100m and 200m events in Gold Coast, and participating at the national championships in March, so this is unfortunate timing,” Van Niekerk said in a statement Tuesday. “But this is sport and these things happen. I trust that the team I have around me, including the medical professionals, will make this process as smooth as possible.

“I have faith that‚ God willing‚ I’ll be able to race again later next year.

“Full recovery is going to be crucial‚ so I’ll be patient‚ but I will work as hard as I can to get back on the track as soon as possible.”

The U.S. is not part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Instead, the notable countries competing at the Games are Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa and the nations that make up Great Britain at the Olympics, led by England.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Niekerk sees different double in his future, or none at all