Cape Town — World record holder Wayde van Niekerk will not defend his 400m title at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar later this month, but the sprint sensation and his management team remain confident that he will make a return to the track.
Van Niekerk, who picked up a serious knee injury in late 2017, had returned to training after undergoing surgery, but faced another minor setback earlier this year and his comeback was delayed further for precautionary reasons.
Having undergone additional rehabilitation at the Aspetar sports medicine hospital in Doha, Van Niekerk was back at his European base in Gemona, Italy this week where he had been given the go ahead by coach Ans Botha to resume training.
"I'm still positive and I'm just taking things day by day, respecting all the calls made by the doctor and respecting my body," said Van Niekerk, a two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist over the 400m distance.
"For me it's just about listening to my body and taking it from there.
"My main goal is to look after my body and when the opportunity comes, I'll take it.
"For now I'm not rushing myself or putting pressure on myself. I'm extremely happy and at peace with where I am."
His doctor, Louis Holtzhausen, also remained confident that Van Niekerk would be able to make his highly anticipated return to racing down the line, with the latest rehabilitation process yielding promising results.
"The medical teams, both in Bloemfontein and Aspetar, did all we could to have him ready for the IAAF World Championships, but it was just not possible," Holtzhausen said.
"However, he has successfully returned to track training and all indications are that he will recover more rapidly from now on."
Van Niekerk memorably set a new world record in the 400m at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, stopping the clock in a time of 43.03.
The 2019 IAAF World Championships will start on Friday, September 27 and run until Sunday, October 6.
Team SA will also be without star women's 800m runner Caster Semenya , thus greatly diminishing their prospects of medals in Qatar.
Van Niekerk (400m - gold, 200m - silver) and Semenya (800m - gold, 1 500m - bronze) were responsible for four of the six medals Team SA won at the last world championships in London in 2017.
Compiled by Garrin Lambley
Hey Guys. Here is an update on my come back. I'm so positive and just taking things day by day, respecting my body and when the opportunity comes, I'll take it! No rush. Thanks so much for all your support! ?? pic.twitter.com/gCmb0VpPcH-- Wayde van Niekerk (@WaydeDreamer) September 2, 2019