Van Zyl back on Song
By Manfred Seidler
Posted on 07 May 2008
South Africa's top 400m Hurdler, LJ van Zyl announced his comeback to topflight athletics after battling with illeness and needing to adapt to the style of the new coach, in the best possible way.
The 2006 Commonwealth Games Champion, who trains at the High Performance Centre (hpc) at the University of Pretoria under the guidance of Nico Van Heerden had been battling ill health which saw him struggle to finish training sessions, and the ever nearer looming Olympic qualification deadline. Van Zyl got that monkey off his back when he won the African Championships title in a time of 48.91sec to book his place on the team to Beijing.
With the support of the hpc, it was diagnosed that Van Zyl had a kidney problem, but that is now a thing of the past. His domination at the African Championships saw him win the 400mh by close on a second. To mark his comeback even further, Van Zyl then went on to anchor the 4x400m relay team to the Gold Medal.
Van Zyl was not on the plane with the rest of the jubilant South African team, they won 22 Medals of which 12 were Gold and topped the medal table, but rather was on the next flight out to Qatar where he will compete in the Grand Prix Meeting in Doha before returning to South Africa for some more training. The youngster will face his first serious challenge of the year when he comes up against the Greek athlete Perikles Iakovakis in Doha, one of only a handful of athletes who have gone under 48sec, and that is the magical mark that LJ needs to aim at. It is virtually a given that to be in medal contention, a time of under 48sec will be required. LJ’s best is 28.05sec which ran when he won the 2006 Commonwealth Games title.
Another athlete who did exceptionally well was Tukkies 200m specialist Isabelle Le Roux. The youngster had a best of 23.05sec in the 200m going into the championships, 0.05sec outside the Olympic Qualifying mark. She shattered that best in the 200m final, winning in 22.69sec, albeit with the aid of 2600m altitude. Nevertheless the result will have given her a huge confidence boost.