South Africa’s world 400m record-holder and Olympic champion runs 45.58 in Bellinzona

Wayde van Niekerk, the world 400m record-holder and Olympic champion, returned to international action after injury problems and ran 45.58 to win at the Galà dei Castelli in Bellinzona, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

Back in fifth at the start of the final straight, the South African finished strongly to take the victory although he was some way off his best form.

Netherlands’ Jochem Dobber was second in 45.78.

It has been a long road back for Van Niekerk, who sustained a knee injury in 2017 while playing in a charity rugby match. Further injury issues followed and then he had to further delay his international comeback as he was reported to have tested positive for coronavirus, but showed no symptoms, while preparing to race in Italy at the start of August. That was later said to have been a ‘false positive’.

His last race outside of his home country had been his world win in London in 2017.

“Back at it,” Van Niekerk wrote on Instagram. “Forgot how to race for a moment, but it’s lovely being back on track.”

Also in Bellinzona, Hedda Hynne of Norway clocked a world lead of 1:58.10 in the women’s 800m as Britain’s Jemma Reekie placed fourth in 1:58.87.

And, while Daniel Rowden led a British 800m 1-2-3 over in Zagreb, there were yet more PBs for British middle-distance runners as Piers Copeland ran a 1500m best of 3:35.69 for second behind Girma Lamecha of Ethopia (and ahead of Selemon Barega and Marcin Lewandowski) as Josh Lay clocked a PB of 3:36.92 in fifth.

In the women’s 100m, Ajla Del Ponte took the women’s 100m in 11.18 (-0.5m/sec) from Brits Kristal Awuah (11.33) and Amy Hunt (11.41) with Dafne Schippers fourth in 11.42.

Results can be found here.

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