First final for SA as hurdlers deliver

2011-08-31 07:34

South Africa must maintain the tradition of being the best in the 400m hurdles.

This was the reaction of LJ van Zyl after he clinched his place in the final with a 49.05 in the semifinals yesterday.

The Tuks Athletics Club runner’s feat followed shortly after his teammate Cornel Fredericks finished second in his heat, to book the country its first spot in the final of the global track and field showpiece.

Van Zyl held off a late challenge from Aleksandr Derevyagin to cross the line in two hundredth of a second ahead of the advancing Russian. Similarly, Fredericks also hung onto the second place towards the finishing line, to ward off a surge from American Angelo Taylor.

Said Van Zyl: “South Africa is known for the 400m hurdles and we must take the tradition forward. I am glad that I achieved my second goal which was to get through to the final.”

As for his lucky moment of not being beaten to the second spot by Derevyagin, Van Zyl said: “I relaxed maybe a little bit too soon because with two days before the final, I didn’t want to run faster.

“From here I will go back to the track tomorrow to loosen up, see the physio and sleep enough.”

Fredericks said he was aiming higher from the beginning.

“I knew I had to take off from the start and get into the top two (to qualify).

“I felt a bit tired in the last 100m – yesterday I made a small mistake by going slower towards the line but I am relieved I am through.”The Boland Athletics runner said there was no specific plan for the final.“I’ll go out from the start and maintain the race.”

Meanwhile, Wenda Theron finished last in the women’s 400m hurdles semifinals earlier in the day.“I need to run a constant 55 to be at the top,” she said as a way forward.

“I need to start competing more at this level to be among the best.”

The men’s final will take place tomorrow at 9.30pm (2.30pm SA time).

» Follow Mothowagae on twitter @DanieMothowagae for regular updates at Daegu 2011. Follow City Press @City_Press 

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