SOUTH AFRICA — Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk opened his 2021 season with a modest 20.64 seconds performance in challenging conditions to win the men’s 200 meters at the ACNW OPEN Invitational in Potchefstroom on Tuesday night.
Van Niekerk, who is still seeking clearance to join the Lance Brauman’s training group in Florida, USA, took the chance to get a race in while he continues to wait and although the time didn’t set the world alight, the South African 400m world record holder was happy to return to competitive competition.
The 28-year-old had a short stint during the COVID-19 pandemic hit campaign last season, which saw him race at few small meets in South Africa and Europe.
On Tuesday he made the run look easy after covering the field IN the opening 100m around the corner and then coasted down the home straight.
“I have to accept the conditions,” Van Niekerk said. “The wind was a bit strong, but we all had that challenge and I took it as it came. I’m happy.
“I really enjoy running in Potch. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and I’m hoping to go from strength to strength.”
Van Niekerk, who is hoping to defend his Olympic 400 meters title in Tokyo, Japan, later this year, says he hoping to return to the form that saw him set his 43.03 seconds world record at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, and revealed that he still has “some fast times” left in him.
“My goal is to improve myself,” he said. “I’ve got some fast times ahead of me, so I want to make sure I’m ready for that.”