SA hurdlers in Doha tussle
Cape Town - South Africa's two men's 400m hurdles protagonists, LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks, will lock horns for the first time since becoming training partners, at the Doha Diamond League meeting on Friday.
The meeting would see Van Zyl, the national 400m hurdles record holder, participate in his specialist event for the first time since the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Games proved to be a disappointment for both athletes who failed to advance past the first round.
Fredericks suffered a hamstring injury in his Olympic heat but had fully recovered since joining renowned hurdles coach Hennie Kotze at the University of Pretoria.
The Olympian won the national one-lap hurdles title for the third time in Stellenbosch in April to reach the world championship A-qualifying standard with a quick 48.78.
Kotze was confident Fredericks could muster a top-three finish in Doha while he expected a sub-50 second race from Van Zyl.
"Everything is going according to plan but LJ is not at the level to win at the moment, but he will soon get back to his best form," Kotze said.
"It is going very well with Cornel's training and I predict he will go better than the time he ran at the SA championships."
Fredericks boasted the third fastest time of the season and was counted as one of the favourites along with Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley of the United States, who ran a season's best of 48.55 in April.
Kotze said while training together assisted the two athletes, there were sessions where he separated them.
"It is always good for their confidence and to see where they are in training and it is a pity that PC Beneke, who deserves to be running with them in Doha could not run with them," he said.
Beneke also qualified for the world championships in Stellenbosch, but would be focusing on the World University Games in Russia in July.
Kotze said he decided to ease Van Zyl back into competition and told the athlete he could only compete if he was 100 percent fit.
"The plan is that LJ should have a good season later in the year, so it is still a bit early for him," Kotze said.
Doha would host the first of 14 meetings, held over four months, with South African middle distance ace Johan Cronje joining the two hurdlers in Qatar.
Cronje, who would be running in the 1 500m event, narrowly missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics.
He won the South African title in a time of 3:38.13 and needed to shave off more than three seconds to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Russia in August.