By Mark Etheridge
Olympic 400-metre hurdles medal hope, LJ van Zyl has put aside the disappointment of recent weeks and reassured the country’s expectant fans that there’s nothing to worry about.
Van Zyl, fifth in the Beijing Olympics four years ago and a bronze medallist at the IAAF World Championships in South Korea last year, hasn’t had the greatest last few weeks, being beaten to second at national championships in Port Elizabeth with a lacklustre time of 51sec as Cornel Fredericks won in 48.91. Both of them have already sealed their spots in London.
At the weekend, Van Zyl ran the second Samsung Diamond League meeting of the season and battled again with a fifth-place finish in 50.38sec as 2000 Sydney Olympics champion Angelo Taylor won in 48.98sec.
But Van Zyl is certainly not panicking at all. “I’m in Italy at the moment, on a training camp and I’m only racing again at next Thursday’s Diamond League meeting in Rome.
“As for Shanghai, yes I battled to find my rhythm and my stride length that was too short (maybe its also caused by my recent knee/calf problems),” he told Road to London 2012.
He also had some extenuating circumstances that may have have counted against him. “I only got to Shanghai the night before the meeting. Our flight left late from Johannesburg to Dubai so that meant we missed the Dubai-Shanghai haul. So that meant I had to spend the whole day in Dubai!”
“But I think I only need one good race and then I’m nicely back on track. And it was good to see Irvette [Van Blerk, his fiance] do so well when she won SA 10km champs in Kimberley while I was away.”
On his race programme ahead of the Olympics: “After Rome I’ll run in Oslo, Norway (the Bislett Games) and then I’m coming home. But then it’s Irv’s chance to travel and she goes off to the New York 10km.
“After that it’s one more meeting in July and then its the Olympic Games!
“Meanwhile I’m having a great time training here in Italy, quite near Venice.”