LJ seeks 'something special'

2012-02-14 14:17

Johannesburg - National 400m hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl says he owes it to himself to pick up a medal at the London Olympic Games.

"I owe myself something special," Van Zyl said at the launch of the domestic track and field season in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"I've won medals everywhere else in outdoor competition - World Championships, Commonwealth Games and African Championships - and all I need now is that Olympic medal."

Van Zyl, 26, was the standout performer in last season's Yellow Pages Series, setting a national one-lap hurdles best of 47.66 seconds in Pretoria and a personal record of 44.86 in the flat 400m event in Germiston.

This year, however, he said he would compete in only three domestic competitions - two over the barriers and one flat event - including the SA Athletics Championships in Port Elizabeth in April.

He hoped to peak later in the season, with his eyes set on the podium in London in July.

"Some of the exercises I'm doing are going even better than last year," he said.

"But I'm still in base training, running in takkies and training on grass.

"Last year I was in top shape in April and May, but this year I want to shift those six weeks to reach top shape at the Olympic Games."

During his short stint on the domestic circuit, he nonetheless hoped to hit his best form in the flat 400m sprint after missing the SA record by 0.28 seconds last season.

"I want to improve my 400m time," he said.

"If I can go a little faster in the 400m, I know I can bring my time down even more over the hurdles."

Van Zyl was the only athlete to pick up the R200 000 pot of gold offered by the sponsors for a national record in last year's series.

This season, however, the cash incentive is likely to be spread much wider, with anyone reaching the Olympic A-standard qualifier in their event earning a portion of the R200 000 prize.

The season kicks off with the first of two inter-provincial meetings in Germiston next week, followed by three Yellow Pages Series events.

The campaign will also include the national senior championships, the national junior and schools championships, the national combined events championships and an inter-club meeting in Pretoria in April.