TRIESTE, Italy —— Wayde van Niekerk 2022 campaign took yet another nose-dive after the South African 400m world record holder pulled up injured in his first race of the season in Italy on Saturday night (28). After several delays, the sprinter finally made his 2022 debut over 200m at the 15° Triveneto Meeting Internazionale in Italy, but it ended as incomplete.
Van Niekerk, who was forced to pull out of the 2022 ASA Senior Track and Field Championships in Cape Town in April with a hamstring problem, left the track in Trieste with another injury concern that could prevent him from competing at the upcoming World Championships in Oregon.
The race was won by Cuba’s Reynier Mena in 20.70 secs.
Van Niekerk started strongly and was well on his way to covering the runners in front of him over the opening 50 meters before hobbling off the track in frustration in what seems to be another muscle issue.
The 2016 Rio Olympics 400m champion and two-time world champion, has been plagued by injuries since winning the world championships in 2017 and is yet to rediscover the same kind of form that propelled him to the top of the world list.
Van Niekerk moved to the United State to train in Florida with coach Lance Brauman, but he hasn’t been able to build a rhythm. Read more: Injured Wayde van Niekerk withdraws from ASA Championships
The 29-year-old raced just once in 2019 and missed the world championships in Doha later in the season. He was then eliminated in the semifinals of the 400m at the Tokyo Olympics last summer after running a disappointing 45.14 second in his semifinal heat for 5th place at the time.
Van Niekerk feeling frustrated
There haven’t been any public updates on how serious the injury is to Van Niekerk, but he voiced his frustrations on his social media account.
“Another incomplete race, frustrations on a high,” he posted on his Twitter account. He added: “But we have to be gracious in defeat too. Blessed Sunday and thank you for all your positive love and support.”
Van Niekerk also stated that: “You’ve watched me win. Now you see me lose. Cry and move on…”
The South African complete sprinter over the 100m, 200m, and 400m who holds the one-lap world record with a blistering 43.03 seconds, set at the Rio 2016 Games, is now racing against the clock to be ready in time for the 2022 World Athletics Championships to be held in Oregon, in July.