CAPE TOWN– Former joint South African 400m record-holder Arnaud Malherbe says Wayde van Niekerk’s knee injury “may have been a risk he shouldn’t have taken”.
Van Niekerk, 25, damaged his meniscus, as well tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a touch rugby match at Newlands last month and has undergone surgery in the United States.
As many sportsmen, administrators and fans questioned the wisdom of world athletics’ hottest property putting his track career at risk, Malherbe took the pragmatic line.
He told Sascoc’s Team SA website: “I was very sorry to learn of Wayde’s recent injury while playing touch rugby.
“While I fully understand and support his reasons for playing, it may have been a risk he shouldn’t have taken.
“Truth is though, he was just extremely unlucky and could just as easily have made it through the match unscathed.
“However, all that is water under the bridge and I wish Wayde a full and speedy recovery.”
Malherbe speaks from both a racing perspective as well as that of recovery from injury. “I’ve had a knee operation myself and am running without any pain whatsoever, so there is every reason to believe Wayde will be back to his world-beating best soon.”
One medical expert questioning the wisdom of athletes taking part in sports other than their speciality is cycling outfit Team Dimension Data’s sports medicine physician Jarrad van Zuydam.
He tweeted: “So that we’re on the same page: This is a potentially career-ending injury. Some athletes never come back from an ACL. Worth it? Dear world-class athletes, skip the celebrity touch-rugby/beach football/hopscotch tournaments. You will get injured.”