LJ van Zyl, Commonwealth champion and the IAAF’s third-ranked 400m hurdler, qualified for the 2007 World Athletics Championships in his first hurdles race of 2007 when winning the gold medal at the SA Student’s Athletics meeting on Saturday.
His winning time of 49.01 sec was well within the required standard of 49.20 sec but he had to pull out all the stops to win the race.
Pieter Koekemoer, of KwaZulu-Natal, gave him the fright of his life when he led the race until about ten metres from the finish and also managed to better the required entry time for the World Championships. Koekemoer’s set a career best 49.04 sec that improved his previous best by 0.4 sec. By qualifying for Osaka Van Zyl and Koekemoer brought South Africa’s number of qualifiers to eleven of which four are 400m hurdlers. The others are Alwyn Myburgh and Ter de Villiers.
Under the extremely windy conditions and a strong headwind in the back-straight the hurdlers did very well to better the required A standard of the IAAF.
In the 200m the runners had the advantage of a following wind
In the 200m the runners had the advantage of a following wind but the fast 20.39 sec by Leigh Julius was nullified because the reading of 2.6m per second was over the allowable limit. Five runners ran under 21 sec but silver medal winner Jan van der Merwe’s 20.68 sec was just over the required 20.59 sec.
After her good win in the 400m Amanda Kotze concluded a fine double with a good victory in the 200m, clocking 23.38 sec. Cindy Stewart, one of the most improved young athletes in the country, recorded the same time but she was placed second by the judges.
Karin Mey, the leading long jumper of 2006 with 6.60m, missed the SA record of 6.85m by 1cm but again the wind was far over the limit. The reading in her case was 4.2m per second. - Sapa