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Van Niekerk back on track and still dreaming of Rio Olympics

Rising star Wayde van Niekerk may be in the quiet section of the track season right now but he’ll be hoping to make some noise in the new season, writes Mark Etheridge.

Young Van Niekerk, [pictured right], blessed with prodigious talent over anything from 100 to 400-metres has also been cursed with some nasty injuries and inappropriate times.

But the Bloemfontein athlete, with the backing of coach Ans Botha, has always kept a positive frame of mind and is planning “on going big next year”

The hamstring is the biggest problem to hold him back, as it’s often on his mind. “It’s been fine for quite a while now but this year, whenever I slowed down during a race or misses a race it was only a safety precaution to prevent myself from tearing it,” he told Road to Rio 2016.

“That’s why I skipped some races, from the New York Diamond League and the opening European season races. As I said, the hamstring is fine now but it’s just been more generally pains and cramps that have bothered me.”

For now though, the current national 400m champion is going about building a solid base from which to dream. “I’m still busy doing rehabilitation work right now, strengthening what’s needed. The improvements look positive and I believe there’s more in me.”

Said the man whose Twitter handle is #WaydeDreamer: “I’ve caught myself dreaming about the SA record a lot lately and I’d love to just improve and grow as an athlete.”

Part of the South African team at last year’s World Championships where he was knocked out in the heats, he’s looking forward to the team experience once more. Making a South African team is always the most amazing feeling ever so I’d like to make that an annual habit in my career and then definitely climb that mountain in reaching that gold medalÔǪ but Rio 2016 is my ultimate goal.”

On what athletics fans can expect from him this year? “Let’s keep that a surprise for now but I’m even prepared to put the 100m aside for now because my chances are strong in the 200 and 400m.

“I haven’t decided when my season will start but first goal is to have another consistent SA seasonÔǪ if not better!”

In between bringing his times down, Van Niekerk will be looking at keeping his marks high as he negotiates the second year of a BA degree in marketing.

While his season is still to take off, he’s already got another honour under his belt after recently being voted 2013 Kovsies Sports Star of the Year.

Picture: www.volksblad.com


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