Wayde will have to be pa­tient with his re­hab – Tan­nie Ans

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WAYDE van Niek­erk’s first love may be the shorter sprints but he will have to put it on the back-burner once he is back to full fit­ness.

The 400m world record holder has started re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion after an op­er­a­tion to his right knee.

Van Niek­erk’s coach “Tan­nie” Ans Botha said they were ef­fec­tively back to when she first started work­ing with the star ath­lete. He started out as a promis­ing 200m ath­lete and was fourth on his in­ter­na­tional de­but at the 2010 World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Canada.

But due to per­sis­tent ham­string in­juries, Botha (pic­tured) de­cided to move her charge to the one-lap sprint. As much as Van Niek­erk dis­likes the 400m, it has earned him global fame and ad­mi­ra­tion.

“We have to wait and see after he re­turns from Qatar after he has com­peted his re­hab,” Botha said.

“We have to work day by day and lis­ten care­fully to his body, ad­just and work like we have the past five years.”

Botha has been ex­tremely pro­tec­tive of her pro­tégé keep­ing his am­bi­tions of rac­ing the 100 and 200m in check. It was only this year that she gave him some slack.

“In the past five years we went through a lot; some days we could train and some­times you have lis­ten to the body and rest com­pletely for that day. This year Wayde ran his best times in the 100, he ran an SA 200m record, broke the 300m world best, and was able to de­fend his 400m world ti­tle as well as bring­ing home the 200m sil­ver.”

Be­fore sus­tain­ing me­dial and lat­eral tears of the menis­cus, as well as a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in a touch rugby match in Oc­to­ber, Van Niek­erk had his sights set on a 100/200m dou­ble at the Com­mon­wealth Games.

He is ex­pected to be out for at least six months and is likely to only race again next Au­gust.

“Be­cause the Com­mon­wealth Games is so early in the year,

Wayde and I planned to han­dle the Games as if it is our na­tional cham­pi­onships,” Botha said. But that is now on ice.

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