Van Zyl sends out warning to rivals
By Manfred Seidler
Posted on 14 July 2008
LJ van Zyl sent a warning out to his major rivals when he ran a season's best in both the Golden Gala, Golden League 400mh race in Rome and then again 2 days later in Athens at the Tsiklitria 2008.
Van Zyl had to be satisfied with 4th in Rome, behind the USA’s Kerron Clemont, Bershawn Jackson and the Jamaican Danny McFarlane. But in Athens he turned the tables on McFarlane winning the race in his fastest of the year 48.22sec.
Since racing in Europe, Van Zyl has steadily been improving and his latest result is the third fastest time of his career. In Rome he clocked 48.79sec. Clemont, who has the fastest time in the World this year, dethroned countryman and USA Trial Champion Bershawn Jackson. Up until the Rome Golden League meet, Jackson was one of the contenders for the end of season Jackpot, but his loss to Clemont means he is out of the running for the $1000 000 Jackpot prize for staying undefeated in his event.
It was however the 48.22sec win in Athens of Van Zyl, that has made the pundits sit up and take note. It means that Van Zyl has moved into the realm of legitimate contender for a medal at the Beijing Olympics.
After his race in Rome, Van Zyl had a long conversation with his coach Nico Van Heerden back home. Van Heerden has been working on the TUKS’ athlete’s confidence since LJ had a bad start to the season. “I told him to attack between hurdles 3 and 6. In Rome he left himself with to much to do and had to settle for 4th. In Athens he executed just the way I wanted him to.”
Clearly the talk worked, as Van Zyl was bolted out of the blocks and left the rest of the field for dead, including McFarlance who just two days previously had shown Van Zyl a clean pair of heals. It also means that Van Zyl appears to be peaking at the right time of the season.
LJ will race in the next Golden League meeting on Friday in Paris before returning home for his final fine-tuning and an onslaught at a medal in Beijing.