Wayde van Niekerk Embraces Jamaican Track Culture Ahead of Racers Grand Prix

By Sports Desk May 26, 2023
400m world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk is set to compete at Racers Grand Prix on June 3. 400m world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk is set to compete at Racers Grand Prix on June 3.

 Wayde van Niekerk, the reigning world record holder in the Men's 400m, is eagerly preparing for his appearance at the Racers Grand Prix set to take place at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, June 3, 2023.

The South African sprinter has faced an arduous journey to regain full fitness following a devastating knee injury in 2017, just a year after his remarkable Olympic triumph. Throughout his recovery, van Niekerk has relied on the expertise of his Jamaican therapist, an important contributor to his rehabilitation process.

“I’m extremely excited, this is one of my highlights for a while now. I love the culture, I love the country, I love the people, and I mean you guys are genuine track lovers,” van Niekerk declared.

Expressing his deep admiration for Jamaica, van Niekerk revealed his love for the country's track and field culture, referring to it as the "Mecca of track and field.” He praised Jamaicans' genuine passion, knowledge, and unwavering support for the sport, recognizing their unparalleled contributions to the world of athletics.

Van Niekerk feels honoured to be able to compete in a country that has produced several track and field legends. He expressed his excitement about the opportunity to leave his mark on Jamaican soil, paying tribute to the great athletes who have emerged from the nation.

“If you look at the amazing athletes that have come through in track and field, and being able to, not just honour the greats that have come out of Jamaica, but also to put my feet into Jamaican soil and compete there and leave my mark behind in such a country that I respect when it comes to track and field, it's exciting for me.”

The Racers Grand Prix holds significant importance for van Niekerk, serving as a vital part of his preparation for the upcoming World Championships. “I'm in a stage now where I need to build my confidence, to get back to winning ways and that's where my mentality is at. I’m looking forward to the positives that lay ahead of me, and I’m hoping to use Jamaica as one of my positive stepping stones, moving forward for the major competitions that do await us, and also use it as a positive step forward,” he remarked. 

Recognizing the passionate support that Jamaican fans bring to track and field, van Niekerk is eager to utilize their energy and enthusiasm to his advantage. He believes that competing in an environment that embraces and loves the sport will provide him with a positive atmosphere to achieve outstanding results.

With his eyes set on the podium at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, van Niekerk hopes that a successful performance at the Racers Grand Prix will help set the stage for a triumphant return to the top-tier of the 400m event.

Related items

  • Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opens season with 11.15 sprint at French Foray meeting Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce opens season with 11.15 sprint at French Foray meeting

    Three-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made a triumphant return to the track with a controlled sprint of 11.15 seconds at the French Foray Meeting held at the National Stadium on Saturday night. This performance comes less than two weeks before the start of the Jamaica national championships, which will determine the team representing Jamaica at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

    The 38-year-old sprinting legend, who boasts a lifetime best of 10.60 seconds, was making an extraordinarily late start to her season. Despite this, Fraser-Pryce, running with her right knee and lower-thigh strapped with kenisio tape, demonstrated her enduring talent by shaking off the rust and securing victory against a competitive field. Jodean Smith, clocking in at 11.20 seconds, finished second, while schoolgirl Sabrina Dockery took third place with a time of 11.46 seconds.

    In the men's sprints, Bouwahjgie Nkrumie emerged as the fastest athlete of the night with a time of 10.21 seconds. Sandray Davison was close behind, recording a time of 10.25 seconds, while De Andre Daley achieved a season-best of 10.26 seconds to finish third. Notably, Ackeem Blake, despite stumbling out of the blocks in Nkrumie's heat, managed to recover and post a respectable time of 10.30 seconds.

     

     

  • Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to kick off final Olympic campaign at JAAA's French Foray meet on Saturday Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to kick off final Olympic campaign at JAAA's French Foray meet on Saturday

    Four-time Olympic 100m medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is set to open her 2024 season this Saturday at the JAAA's French Foray meet at the National Stadium in Kingston. The 38-year-old sprinting star will take on a relatively weak field of athletes as she tests her readiness to challenge for an unprecedented third Olympic 100m title in Paris this August.

    Fraser-Pryce, who last competed in August 2023 when she ran 10.77 to win the bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, is gearing up for the Jamaica National Championships, which begins in less than two weeks on June 27. To secure her place in the Olympic squad, Fraser-Pryce will need to finish in the top three at the national trials.

    In an interview with Sportsmax.TV last October, Fraser-Pryce revealed plans to run more races leading up to the Olympics in 2024. However, for reasons unknown, she has not been able to compete before Saturday. As one of the most decorated sprinters in history, with five World Championships 100m titles to her name, Fraser-Pryce has faced a series of injuries since 2016. A toe injury in 2016 hampered her chances of winning a third consecutive Olympic 100m title, and she finished third.

    After nearly two years off due to the birth of her son Zyon, Fraser-Pryce made a triumphant return by winning her fourth World 100m title in Doha in 2019. She followed this with a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and a fifth world title in Oregon in 2022. During an injury-hit season in 2023, she followed up with a bronze at the World Championships in Budapest.

    On Saturday, Fraser-Pryce will gauge her readiness for what she has indicated will be her final Olympic campaign. Fans and athletics enthusiasts will be watching closely as she begins her journey towards making history once again in Paris.

     

  • Do Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have a shot at Copa America glory? Do Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have a shot at Copa America glory?

    Jamaica warmed up for the 48th edition of the Copa America with back-to-back tame displays in their World Cup qualifiers. A slender 1-0 home win over Dominican Republic was followed up with an insipid 3-2 triumph in Dominica.

    It is back to the drawing board for Jamaica head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who will be chasing regional bragging rights when the leading 16 nations from the Caribbean as well as North and South America tackle the marquee tournament.

    Although his ultimate goal would be for the Reggae Boyz to lift the crown in Florida on 14 July, Jamaica need to navigate themselves out of the group phases before trying to net the top prize.

    The 2024 Copa America, hosted in the US from 20 June to 14 July, will feature 10 CONMEBOL members from South America and six invited countries from the North America and Caribbean CONCACAF region.

    All eyes will be on Argentina, the defending champions and FIFA World Cup winners, to make it a hat-trick of trophies.

    GROUP A | Argentina, Chile, Peru, Chile
    Argentina hardly ever concede goals, kick-off their campaign with a star-stunned squad that includes Angel Di Maria, the legendary Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Montiel, whose spot-kick secured the World Cup final win over France.

    Argentina beat both Chile (2-1) and Peru (2-0) in 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Yet Peru, who failed to get a shot on target in their November tie with Messi and his mates, had held Argentina to three draws on the spin before their last encounter.

    Chile, the Copa America 2016 champions Chile, have been off colour recently under veteran manager Jorge Fossati, and rely on veterans — like Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas — to add sparks.

    Canada should be better than their results suggest under recently appointed head coach Jesse Marsh, who won two caps for the US. He has a plethora of talents — like Alphonso Davies, Tajon Buchanan and Jonathan David — keen to start matches on Canada’s Copa America
    Prediction: 1st Argentina, 2nd Canada, 3rd Chile, 4th Peru

    GROUP B | Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica

    Mexico went two-and-a-half matches without scoring at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. They brought in Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano as interim head coach for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and after winning the top prize he was appointed on a permanent basis. Yet he is surprisingly shelving veterans for the Copa America, instead giving emerging talents an opportunity to showcase their silky skills.

    This appears to be a hit and miss group with Ecuador, Jamaica and Venezuela all capable of beating understrength Mexico. However, the Mexicans will benefit from vociferous support in the stadiums.

    Ecuador and Venezuela ended in a bore scoreless draw last October. Defensively-minded Ecuador have stars Moises Caicedo, Piero Hincapie and Willian Pacho. Venezuela have hit a purple patch by purring through their World Cup qualifiers.

    Jamaica still have failed to produce eye-catching displays under former Iceland head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, despite their array of English Premier League stars. The Boyz just grind out results, although tend to make good progress in tournaments mainly thanks to reliable shotstopper Andre Blake.

    Prediction: 1st Mexico, 2nd Jamaica, 3rd Venezuela, 4th Ecuador

    GROUP C | Uruguay, USA, Bolivia, Panama

    Uruguay are a real force to be reckoned with, with stunning victories over Argentina and Brazil last year under head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Uruguay are a terrific blend of future stars and seasoned aces with names like Darwin Nunez, Luis Suarez, Manuel Ugarte and Fede Valverde enough to scare opponents.

    The US will be under pressure with high expectations from their fans on home soil. Despite being FIFA’s highest-ranked CONCACAF side, there are flaws with defensive uncertainty and an inability to find the back of the net despite having an array of striking power from the likes of Folarin Balogun, Weston McKennie, Ricardo Pepi, Christian Pulisic and Haji Wright.

    Panama, narrowly beaten by Mexico in the Gold Cup final, will kick themselves if they fail to reach the quarter-finals. They are brimming with confidence having hit a rich vein of form.

    Bolivia are the weakest South American side, with a dreadful World Cup qualifying campaign. They are unlikely to end their 11-match run of failing to win a Copa America group stage match.

    Prediction: 1st Uruguay, 2nd Panama, 3rd USA, 4th Bolivia
    GROUP D | Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

    Colombia have become a fantastic side since hiring head coach Nestor Lorenzo last year. They arrive at the Copa Amercia as the only South American nation unbeaten in World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-1 win over Brazil last year. Striker Luis Diaz can be lethal, and will be keen to better his tally of four goals at 2021 Copa America.

    Five-time World Cup winners Brazil, having tasted three World Cup qualification defeats on the bounce for their worst run since 2001 are arguably no longer the force they once were. After their 1-0 reversal to Argentina last November, their first-ever home World Cup qualifying loss, Dorival Junior was brought in as head coach. Under Junior’s tutelage they beat England and drew with Spain. Hot-shots Vinicius Junior and 17-year-old wonderkid Endrick are aiming to transform Brazil’s fortunes.

    Paraguay will be aiming to shoot down Brazil, but need a solid goalscorer. They are pretty solid defensively, and could be sensational if midfield maestro Miguel Almiron and striker Julio Enciso can replicate their silky skills seen in the English Premier League. Costa Rica face an uphill task to navigate their way to the knockout stages, and there will be big boots to fill between the sticks with iconic keeper Keylor Navas recently announcing his international retirement.

    Prediction: 1st Colombia, 2nd Brazil, 3rd Paraguay, 4th Costa Rica

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.