South African Athletics

Van Zyl hopes to bounce back

2014-06-10 13:01
LJ van Zyl (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - One-lap hurdler LJ van Zyl hopes to bounce back from a disappointing performance at the weekend, as he spearheads the field in his specialist event at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo on Wednesday night.

Van Zyl was sixth in the men's 400m hurdles race at the World Challenge event in Hengelo on Sunday in 50.57 seconds.

The SA record holder admitted he had been stunned by an early charge from Ashton Eaton on his inside, with the American decathlete going on to finish second in a career record 49.07.

"My rhythm was bad from the start and Ashton passed me by the second hurdle," Van Zyl said.

"I didn't expect that and wanted to go with him, which messed up my whole race."

Van Zyl clocked 48.96 seconds in Sasolburg in March - his fastest time since the 2011 season - and he was eager to shine as the quickest man in the field in Oslo.

"I am sure it will go better in Oslo but I'm never too confident about a race," Van Zyl said.

"I know I have a few good races still in my legs somewhere in the season."

Middle-distance runner Johan Cronje will form another crucial component in the five-member SA contingent in the Norwegian capital.

Cronje, who broke the long-standing SA mile record when he crossed the line in 3:50.70 in Eugene late last month, will again toe the line in the 1.609km race in Oslo.

Three of the 15 men in the line-up have dipped under 3:50.00 in their careers, including in-form world leader Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, and the South African will hope for another quick time over the rarely run distance.

Meanwhile, three other SA athletes - Simon Magakwe, Khotso Mokoena and Caster Semenya - will want to gain some momentum at the midweek meeting.

Magakwe produced relatively mediocre performances in Eugene, Rome and Marrakech in the early stages of the international campaign, but half the men's 100m line-up in Oslo have gone under 10 seconds in 2014, and the South African will expect to be dragged under the magical barrier for the second time this year.

Mokoena, the only SA athlete competing on the infield in Oslo, continues his comeback in the triple jump event.

The former world junior champion took a six-year hiatus from the hop, skip and jump, in order to focus on his long jump career.

His best effort this season, a 16.68m victory at the national championships in Pretoria in April, was 57 centimetres off his nine-year-old SA mark in the event, and Mokoena will aim to gain some traction ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next month.

Semenya will also be desperate to build on her form after struggling this season.

The former 800m world champion has failed to come within seven seconds of her national record after three races this year, and having clocked a pedestrian time of 2:06.35 in Hengelo on Sunday, Semenya will hope to strike back in Oslo.

Read more on:    lj van zyl  |  athletics
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