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Athletics: Olympic gold medalist Van Niekerk targeting July return

2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Victory Ceremony - Men's 400m Victory Ceremony - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 15/08/2016. Gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) of South Africa poses with his medal. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa’s Olympic 400-metre gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk is targeting a return to the track by the start of July, his coach Ans Botha has said.

Van Niekerk is to travel to Qatar this week for an assessment by sports physician Louis Holtzhausen as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in a charity touch rugby game last October that forced him to miss the recent Commonwealth Games.

“We are flying to Doha to see Dr Louis (Holtzhausen) and the medical team and he will start intensive rehabilitation in two weeks’ time,” Botha told

“He will come back to continue with the process for six weeks in South Africa and return to Doha for the last time.”

While stating that Van Niekerk hoped to return in late June or early July, it remains unclear when exactly he will be back on the track.

“It will only be after his second visit to Doha that we will have a good idea of how far he is in terms of returning to competitive running,” Botha added.

Following the retirement of Jamaican sprint great Usain Bolt, Van Niekerk was keen to compete in the 100 and 200-meters as well as the 400 at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. However, he may now have to manage his workload more carefully.

Van Niekerk was one of the major attractions at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when he smashed the 400m world record with a time of 43.03, beating the long-standing mark set by American Michael Johnson in 1999.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge