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Wayde van Niekerk to miss all of 2018

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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.

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

Long jumper stretchered out of sand pit after injury at Shanghai meet

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Chinese long jumper Shi Yuhao suffered an apparent foot or ankle injury on his last jump at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai on Saturday and was carried out of the sand pit on a stretcher.

Shi, 19, was poised to upset Olympic and world champions Jeff Henderson of the U.S. and Luvo Manyonga of South Africa until Manyonga overtook him in the final round.

Shi’s attempt to answer Manyonga resulted in injury and a bail out into the sand pit. Shi finished second, after placing sixth at the 2017 World Championships.

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VIDEO: Justin Gatlin has worst 100m result of his career

Justin Gatlin runs his slowest career Diamond League 100m (video)

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Justin Gatlin ran the slowest Diamond League 100m of his career, recording his worst 100m result in years, if ever, as one of several American stars handed defeat in Shanghai on Saturday.

Gatlin, the 36-year-old who beat Usain Bolt for the 2017 World 100m title, clocked 10.20 seconds for seventh place into a slight headwind in rainy conditions Saturday. Great Britain’s Reece Prescod won in 10.04.

Gatlin’s slowest previous 100m time in 28 Diamond League starts dating to 2011 was 10.14 into a stronger headwind in Doha last year. Gatlin had never finished seventh or worse in a 100m in his career, according to Tilastopaja.org.

“I got stuck in the little in the blocks tonight, and I just had too much ground and distance to make up,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.

Full Shanghai results are here.

In other events, world-record holder Kendra Harrison lost a Diamond League 100m hurdles for the first time since 2015, ending an 11-race win streak. She finished third in 12.56, trailing Olympic champion Brianna McNeal (12.50) and Sharika Nelvis (12.52).

In the pole vault, world champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. shockingly failed to clear 5.61 meters, finishing ninth, his worst placement since the 2015 World Championships. World-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France went on to win after clearing 5.81.

American Paul Chelimo fell at the finish line in a failed attempt to win his first international race in a deep 5000m. The Olympic silver medalist led for the entire final lap until Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew edged ahead in the final 20 meters. Balew prevailed in 13:09.64, .02 ahead of Chelimo, who looked over his shoulder several times before being passed.

In the long jump, world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa recorded a sixth and final jump of 8.56 meters to overtake Chinese 19-year-old Shi Yuhao. Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the U.S. was fourth.

Olympic 400m champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo took the 200m in 22.06, beating a field that did not include Olympic gold and bronze medalists Elaine Thompson and Tori Bowie.

Jamaican Omar McLeod won in his first 110m hurdles race since adding the 2017 World title to his Olympic gold. He clocked 13.16 seconds, edging Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain by .01.

Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad held off Jamaican Janieve Russell by .01 in the 400m hurdles, clocking 53.77. The race lacked world champion Kori Carter and 18-year-old Sydney McLaughlin, the fastest in the world this year at 53.60.

Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took the men’s 400m in 43.99, his second sub-44 clocking in the last week. Gardiner is the only man to break 44 seconds this year. Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor finished fifth in 45.24 as he focuses on the 400m with no world championships this year, hoping to break 45 seconds.

The Diamond League next moves to Eugene, Ore., for the Prefontaine Classic, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on May 25-26.

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