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World 400m record holder Wayde van Niekerk is healthy again and he’s looking forward to the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Oregon, following an encouraging season-opening performance in the event at an American Track League meet in Atlanta on Saturday (2).

The Rio Olympic Games champion in 2016 when he set the world record at 43.03 seconds, posted a time well under 45-seconds to win the event in 44.58 seconds at the Stars and Stripes Classic 2022 and he was delighted with his performance.

Van Niekerk, who has been tormented by injuries since winning the world title in 2017 was encouraged by his first appearance over the 400m this season and he was happy to come away injury-free. Read more: Wayde van Niekerk runs 44.58 in 400m opener in Atlanta

“[I’m] grateful for finishing my race healthy and looking forward to the next.”

After missing out on defending his world title in 2019 because of injuries, and failing to advance past the semi-final round at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer, the 29-year-old is now aiming to get amongst the medalists at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

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“I think world championships is the next stop so it’s really about gradual growth and hopefully [run in the] heats, semis and finals,” said Van Niekerk about his plans going forward for the rest of the season. 

“Then finish up the year stronger and maybe do a few meets [in Europe], you never know. 

“It’s been an amazing welcome in the US so far and I am excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

The South African got off to a very strong start in his 400m race at the Stars and Stripes Classic on Saturday to cover the field early and then powered away to the victory.

“I have the ability to run a solid race comfortably and as smooth as possible so I try to keep it as smooth as possible for as long as I could,” he stated. 

“But obviously, as you get to the home straight you have to pick it up a bit and finish strong so it gave me a reason to fight to the finish line and I am quite satisfied with the results.”

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