LJ Van Zyl (Tuks/HPC) maintained his unbeaten streak as a hurdler when he won the 400-hurdles in 49.74 seconds at last night’s ASA Night Series- event in Cape Town. It was the 139th time that he clocked a time faster than 50 seconds for the event. The Tuks/HPC hurdlers actually dominated the 400-hurdles races.
Lindsay Hanekom was second in the men’s race in a best time of 49.81s and Gezelle Magerman won the women’s race in 58.38s, the second best time of her career. Van Zyl is satisfied with the way his race played out: ‘I had a good fast start and my technique felt good. What excites me is that I felt stronger than I did when I raced at the Gauteng North Championships. It proves that my training is on track. I would have liked to have run a time faster than the Olympic qualifying A-standard of 49.40s, but then again my main goal was just to win. I am confident that it will be just a matter of time before I am able to run an Olympic qualifying time.’ Hanekom is definitely an athlete to watch this season.
So far this season he has only competed twice in the 400-hurdles and on both occasions he ran personal best times. At a league meeting at Pilditch this past Saturday he ran 49.90s. It is interesting to note that Hanekom has managed to improve his time for the 400-hurdles by more than 10 seconds over the past four years.
In his first ever 400-hurdles race he was timed at 63 seconds. Last year his personal best time was 50.0s and since then it has improved by another 0.19s. Nico Van Heerden, his coach, is confident that Hanekom will be able to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio.
Van Heerden says: ‘Lindsay still has some injury problems but we work around it. The important thing is that we are able do quality work during his training sessions. As his coach, I am impressed by Lindsay’s hunger to succeed.’ Hanekom is not satisfied with his performance last night, saying: ‘The good news is that my hamstring felt fine during the race, but I was disappointed with the way I executed my race. For instance, my hurdle clearance was not what it should be. But I guess I cannot complain seeing that I ran a best time.’ Le Roux Hamman (Tuks) was third in the 400-hurdles race in a time of 50.10s. For Magerman it was just very good to race in front of her home crowd again.
The Tuks athletes made a clean sweep in the men’s 100 metres. Henricho Bruintjies won in 10.26s, Emil Erasmus was second in 10.31m and Gift Leotlela (Grade 12-learner TuksSport High School) third in 10.34s. Hennie Kriel, Leotlela’s coach, says it impressed him that Leotlela was not intimidated by the senior and more experienced athletes: ‘Even though Gift had to race in lane seven, which is never easy, he still had no qualms about taking on the senior athletes. He showed a lot of guts with the way he fought to get a top-three finish. However, Gift told me that he was not satisfied with his race. He said he was not quite able to run as he had planned to do, but he will learn from his mistakes.’
Photo credit: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images