Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk made a winning return to action, as he comfortably romped home at the Gala dei Castelli at the Municipal Stadium in Bellinzona, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old has been out of action for the best part of three years since sustaining a torn ligament in 2017.
Wayde van Niekerk wins in Switzerland
It was his first appearance on an international track, which he marked with victory as he finished the 400m in 45.58 seconds ahead of Jochem Dobber of the Netherlands and Poland’s Karol Zalewski.
Prior to the race, van Niekerk – who had also just recovered from COVID-19 – said he was happy to be in good health and was looking forward to racing again.
“We don’t have any goals for the meeting. I’m just excited to see how my body feels again in a race situation‚ and it will be nice to loosen up the legs. “It will give us a good indication of where I am in my training‚ after having to spend 25 days in isolation‚ and we can then focus on what needs to be done to gain some momentum towards the 2021 season.”
Wayde van Niekerk
SA athletes impress in Europe
Meanwhile, van Niekerk’s compatriot Akani Simbine also registered a win in Switzerland.
The Commonwealth Games 100m gold medalist crossed over in 10.02, edging Italy’s Filippo Tortu, who finished in 10.07 seconds.
Athletics South Africa president Aleck Skhosana was impressed with how the country’s flag was flown by the athletes.
“We are happy with performances all round,” said Skhosana. “It’s good to see Wayde returning with a win and Akani continuing where he left off while improving on his time in his win. Ruswahl and Antonio are showing continued focus in their events. We congratulate each athlete, their respective coaches, and support staff. We trust their hard work will soon pay off.”