CAPE TOWN – A typical highveld thunderstorm halted Wayde van Niekerk’s mission to prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday – but not before he least got in some sprint work.
The 400m world record-holder was down to run in the 60m and 150m at the NWU McArthur Stadium, while marathon star Gerda Steyn was going to do some speed work in the 5 000m later in the evening.
But those plans were dashed when the storm arrived in the North West town just after 6pm, minutes before Van Niekerk was likely to participate in his second event of the day, the 150m.
Organisers waited for about 40 minutes before finally deciding to call it a night as the rain continued bucketing down.
Earlier in the 60m event, the 28-year-old was a bit slow out of the blocks in what could have been his very first competitive race in the distance.
Hoërskool Transvalia youngster Ruan Potgieter was the quickest at the start, and sped out of the blocks alongside Kovsies sprinter Tsebo Matsoso.
But just as they thought that they would pull off the biggest upsets of their careers, Van Niekerk opened up his engine and managed to pass them just before the finish line to win in 6.62 seconds – although it was well short of the South African record of 6.48, set by Morné Nagel.
But he wouldn’t have worried about the time, as his presence was all about getting some racing in the legs in the build-up to next year’s Olympic Games in Japan.
Van Niekerk has said previously that he may run in three or four of the weekly Tuesday Potchefstroom meetings, and the stadium announcer said that the Olympic champion could line up in the 400m again next week.