The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have suffered a big blow with track superstar Wayde van Niekerk ruled out by a serious knee injury.
But organisers believe the event will still have plenty of top-shelf names despite the loss of the 400m Olympic and world champion.
Van Niekerk, who also holds the 400m world record, was expected to be one of the biggest international drawcards at the Gold Coast Games in April.
The South African tore his anterior cruciate ligament and suffered medial and lateral tears of the meniscus while playing in a celebrity touch rugby event in Cape Town last month and has now travelled to Vail in the United States for surgery.
It’s believed Van Niekerk had intended to run in the 100m and 200m events on the Gold Coast – not the 400m – but the 25-year-old is now expected to face six months of rehabilitation.
GOLDOC deputy CEO Brian Nourse wished him a speedy recovery but said the injury wouldn’t necessarily rob the Commonwealth Games of all its star power.
“We remain excited about the attendance of many other world-class track and field athletes who have already been selected or have publicly indicated their desire to compete,” Nourse said.
“The men include Canada’s dual Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse, England selection Adam Gemili, Jamaican Olympic and world champion hurdler Omar McLeod and sprint superstars Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake.
“In the women’s sprint events, spectators can hope to see Jamaica’s dual Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and the Bahamas’ Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo who have also said they are training hard for the Gold Coast.”
Van Niekerk said it was unfortunate timing.
“But this is sport and these things happen,” he said on his management company’s website.
“I trust that the team I have around me, including the medical professionals, will make this process as smooth as possible.”