South Africa’s Olympic gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk will miss next year’s Commonwealth Games in April after suffering a serious knee injury in a celebrity touch rugby match, the sprinter said on Tuesday.
The Olympic and world 400 metres champion, who had intended to compete in the 100m and 200m at the Gold Coast Games, tore his anterior cruciate ligament and suffered medial and lateral tears of the meniscus during the match in Cape Town.
The 25-year-old, regarded as the new superstar of athletics in the wake of Usain Bolt’s retirement, has flown to the United States to undergo surgery at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.
“I was looking forward to competing in the 100-metre and 200-metre events in Gold Coast, and participating at the (South African) national championships in March, so this is unfortunate timing,” Van Niekerk was quoted on his management company’s website (in-site.co.za).
“But this is sport and these things happen. I trust that the team I have around me, including the medical professionals, will make this process as smooth as possible.
“I have faith that, God willing, I’ll be able to race again later next year. Full recovery is going to be crucial, so I’ll be patient, but I will work as hard as I can to get back on the track as soon as possible.”
Van Niekerk, who broke the 400m world record in winning Olympic gold in Rio last year, retained his world title, and added 200m silver, at August’s World Championships in London.