London - Hopes of continuing South Africa's
medal momentum were shattered on Friday, the first day of the track and
field events, when both Cornel Fredericks and world bronze medallist LJ
van Zyl were eliminated from the 400m hurdles competition at the London
Drawn in the same heat as world champion and home
favourite David Greene, Fredericks went out hard but, by the third
hurdle, he was clearly lame, dropping back to complete the lap in eighth
To the pleasure of the home crowd, Greene nailed his
flag to the pole in 48.98 seconds, posting one of the fastest qualifiers
of the morning.
"I felt my hamstring pop over the first hurdle and by the second, I just couldn't accelerate," said Fredericks.
"I was determined to finish. I wasn't going to stop in the Olympics, but knew I couldn't go faster."
For Van Zyl it, was the continuation of a bad season.
"Three weeks ago Hennie [Kotze, his coach] wanted to pull me out, but I fought hard to be here," Van Zyl said.
April, Van Zyl had struggled to find the form which had taken him to
the World Championships in 2005 and the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where
he finished fifth.
Although he was in contention for the first
half of the Olympic heat, the Tukkies athlete faded back to sixth in
50.31 seconds, missing the cut for one of sixth fastest finishers by 11
Angelo Taylor won Van Zyl's heat in 49.29, while Puerto Rica's Javier Culson posted the day's fastest time of 48.33.
Africa's hopes for the day, in the athletics, now rest with World and
Olympic silver medallist, Khotso Mokoena, who competes in Friday
evening's long jump qualifier.