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World champion ruled out of Doha

Tuesday September 3 2019

South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates with the South African flag after winning the final of the men's 400m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 8, 2017. PHOTO | FILE |

South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk celebrates with the South African flag after winning the final of the men's 400m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 8, 2017. PHOTO | FILE |  AFP

AFP
By AFP
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JOHANNESBURG

World 400 metres champion Wayde van Niekerk will not defend his title in Qatar this month after a setback while recovering from an injury suffered playing rugby.

Van Niekerk became world champion in 2015 and retained the title two years ago before hurting his knee playing touch rugby in Cape Town before a Test between South Africa and New Zealand.

The 27-year-old returned to the track last February for a provincial meet in Bloemfontein, but later withdrew from the national championships because he believed the cold weather would affect his recovery.

Explaining his decision to skip the September 27-October 6 World Championships in Doha, Van Niekerk said he did not want to "rush or put pressure on myself."

"I'm extremely happy and at peace with where I am. I am respecting calls made by the doctor and respecting my body. It is about listening to my body and taking it from there."

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Although he has not competed internationally since his injury, Van Niekerk qualified for Qatar as a defending champion.

Apart from his two world triumphs, Van Niekerk won the 2016 Olympic Games 400m title in Rio de Janeiro in a world record 43.03 seconds.

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