World and Olympic 400m record holder – Wayde van Niekerk has withdrawn from the South African team at next weekend’s World Athletics Relays championships in Poland.
According to relay coach – Paul Gorries the Western Cape Town born sprinter took the decision due to his impending trip to the United States [Florida], where he will join his new coach Lance Brauman’s training group, which includes 200m world champion Noah Lyles.
“As much as we would’ve liked Wayde to be part of the team, it’s not an issue as he asked for permission a long time ago to travel to the US. If the approval had been given earlier, he would’ve been there already. He will not be replaced in the team (for the 4x400m relay),” Gorries said.
“Wayde hasn’t been part of our team in a while anyway, so we’ve built up good depth in the 4x400m squad. I am confident that the guys can finish in the top eight to secure automatic qualification for Tokyo,” he added.
It is understood that van Niekerk [28yrs] may depart for the US as early as this very weekend to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Despite going to the World Athletics Relays without van Niekerk, Team South Africa can count on 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m gold medallist – Akani Simbine for honours.
Below is Team SA:
4x100m: Akani Simbine, Clarence Munyai, Thando Dlodlo, Luxolo Adams, Gift Leotlela, Emile Erasmus.
4x400m: Lythe Pillay, Berend Koekemoer, Zakithi Nene, Oscar Mavundla, Ranti Dikgale.
Mixed 4x400m: Simon Khuzwayo, Ranti Dikgale, Taylon Bieldt, Marli Viljoen, Dalene Mpiti.