The international athletics season got underway with a bang for South Africa last weekend when LJ Van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks went 1-2 in the 400-metre hurdles in Doha at the first IAAF Samsung Diamond League meeting.
In the process they took the scalp of Bershawn Jackson, 2005 world champion and 2009 bronze medallist. Apart from the hurdles Robert Oosthuizen finished second in the javelin and Rene Kalmer and Lusapho April set World Championship qualifying times when they finished fifth and first respectively in the Prague and Hannover marathons.
The season now heads east for the second IAAF Samsung Diamond League Meeting in Shanghai on Sunday making the trip are South African 3000m steeplechase recordholder Ruben Ramolefi and Robert Oosthuizen.
Ramolefi came close to his own SA record in Durban at the Yellow Pages SA Senior National Championships, clocking 8min 14.06sec to win the title for the seventh consecutive time. It was his second best ever time in the steeplechase. Ramolefi will need to be at his though as he comes up against no less than seven athletes who have gone faster than him, including Paul Kipsiele Koech who is the only athlete in the field to have gone under eight minutes
The latest Olympic steeplechase champion to come out of Kenya, Brimin Kipruto, fastest man in the world last year, and fellow Kenyan, Beijing Olympic bronze and Berlin world silver medallist, Richard Mateelong are also in the field; and with seven athletes under 8min10sec lining up, this could well be the chance for Ramolefi to better his own SA record of 8.11.63.
Another massive duel will be the men’s javelin. Oosthuizen claimed the scalps of the Olympic and world champions Andreas Thorkildsen and Tero Pitkamaki in Doha a week ago, but the win went to Czech Republic’s Petr Frydrych with the second longest throw of the season (85.32m).
The fact that Fydrych is coached by Jan Zelezny, the man whose world record Thorkildsen is chasing, adds an extra dimension to the clash. Oosthuizen’s 84.38m in Doha was his third best ever.
The meeting will be broadcast on Supersport 7 at 11pm on Sunday, May 15.