By Mark Etheridge
Star SA track athletes LJ van Zyl and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi both continued their upward curve ahead of next month’s IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin.
The duo were competing at Friday evening’s Golden League meeting in Rome, Italy.
Van Zyl placed third in the 400 metre hurdles and Mulaudzi fourth in the men’s two-lapper.
It was Van Zyl’s fastest time of the year as he finished strongly to clock 48.37sec. His best before this was 48.71 in Madrid.
The Commonwealth Games champion looked in contention for much of the race but slipped back around the final bend before his usual strong finish brought him back into the medals.
It took a season’s best run from American winner Kerron Clement (48.09) to win while rising Jamaican Isa Phillips was runner-up in 48.11.
Van Zyl’s coach, Nico van Heerden was well-satisfied. “I’m happy with his run. He’s improving all the time and I know he can go faster when he runs in Athens, Greece on Monday.”
Mulaudzi had another solid 800m and indeed, after a first lap of 50.80sec, hit the front at around the 600m mark, but tied up in the final stages of the race, possibly a sign that he lost valuable training time with a bout of flu a few weeks back.
Still, Mulaudzi would not be unhappy with his 1:45.69 as Kenya’s Alfred Kirwa Yego showed and impressive finish to win in 1:45.23. Third and fourth were Saudie Arabia’s Al Salhi (1;45.61) and Algeria’s Nadjum Manseur (1:45.64).