By Mark Etheridge
The world’s fastest 400-metre hurdler this year, our LJ van Zyl had injury worries as he suffered his second defeat of the season at the Herculis Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday night.
Van Zyl, who has twice run 47.66sec this season could only manage fourth on this occasion, albeit in a respectable 48.72sec as America’s Angelo Taylor just dipped under 48sec to win in 47.97. Hard on Van Zyl’s heels was his SA compatriot Cornel Fredericks in 48.96.
In his defence though is the fact that Van Zyl has a niggling injury problem that is keeping him from going full steam.
“He’s picked up trouble from his hamstring again,” coach Hennie Kotze told Road to London 2012 after the race. “I’ve told him to go and see either a physiotherapist or doctor as soon as possible to get another opinion. I don’t think it’s too serious and he’ll be back soon but we have to sort it out.
“It first started in Ostrava a while ago and it comes back now and then. The problem is with all the travelling around from meeting to meeting he’s going to need a good physio with him to sort things out like this as soon as he picks up problems. He’s been training well and putting in all the work. It’s just when it comes to the racing. I could see from the start that he wasn’t on top of his game.’
Taylor ran a superb last section of the race to hold off any potential challengers and the race for gold at this year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea next month is hotting up now after Van Zyl dominated the early part of the season.
Runner-up was last year’s Diamond League champion Bershawn Jackson of the US in 48.22 with European champion Dai Greene third in 48.43.
On an evening that saw double Olympic champion and recordholder Usain Bolt almost upstaged in the 100m, our Ruben Ramolefi was part of the second quickest 3000m steeplechase race of all time.
Brimin Kipruto ran a Kenyan record of 7min 53.64sec┬á just 0.01sec outside the world record set by former Kenyan Saif Saaeed Shahan who became a citizen of Qatar before running the current world record in Brussels seven years ago.
Kipruto ran a stunning last lap of 60sec to beat countrymen Ezekiel Kemboi (7:55.76, personal best) and Paul Koech (7:57.32, season’s best) into second and third.
Ramolefi, swept along in their wake, ended 10th with a season’s best 8:12.27. His personal best is the 8:11.63 that he ran at the same meeting here, two years ago.
The fourth South African in action on Friday was Sunette Viljoen in the javelin. And she would have been frustrated to fall just short of 60m on the night. She’d said before the meeting that she was hoping to improve on her season’s best 61.74 but it wasn’t to be.
She opened with a 59.07 before producing her best throw of the evening, a 59.94m effort with her third attempt.
Nearly 10m further than her was Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova who produced a world-leading 69.45m with her final throw, signalling that she’s the one to beat in South Korea next month. Germany’s Christina Obergfoll who has also been looking very good lately was runner-up with a 64.29 a good effort but still more than five metres down on the winning effort.
Next up in the Diamond League is Friday’s DN Galan meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.