Athletics: Fredericks finishes in a credible fifth placeVan Zyl bags bronze

2011-09-02 00:00

LJ VAN Zyl won South Africa’s first medal in the 400 metre hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea yesterday taking bronze and ending a day where the country became the flavour of the day on and off the field.

With Van Zyl and 21-year-old Cornel Fredericks in the final, South Africa had high hopes of at least one medal as the world class field went under starters orders three times due to technical problems.

Although running blind in the outside lane, Van Zyl used his newly adopted approach to blast through the 200 metre mark where he held the lead.

Coming out of the bend, Britain’s David Greene and Javier Culson from Puerto Rico, pulled past Van Zyl to take the gold and silver in 48,26 and 48,46 seconds respectively.

Fredericks finished in a credible fifth in his debut championships in 49,12 seconds.

“Its very difficult running blind in lane eight and when Culson and Greene moved up to me I lost a little bit of concentration and clipped hurdle nine, but I came back strong,” said van Zyl, who has competed in four world championships, but previously only reached the final in 2005 in Helsinki.

“I didn’t have a major medal yet, it’s my fourth world champs now I have a bronze,” he added.

It was almost a non-event for Van Zyl, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury since June.

“It was very tough [with the niggling hamstring] the first days here I couldn’t sleep,” he said.

The Tukkies athlete ran 44,86 seconds for the 400 metre flat in Durban and would unquestionably augment the 400 metre relay team in today’s final, but that decision will only be announced around 9.30 am.

“I’d really like to run, but if I don’t run I will be cool with it because the other guys did well and got the SA record,” he added.

After that the 28-year-old will compete in Berlin and Brussels in the Diamond league.

“I’m confirmed for the next two diamond leagues and still in the run for the diamond league final where I have the second most points.

“If I win in Brussels then I get double points and I take away the diamond — its all part of my plan.”

“I’m pleased for LJ he deserves it,” said Fredericks who came through his final with flying colours.

He added, “Everyone has criticised him for the last few years, but I’m glad he came through and won a bronze medal.”

“I’m happy with the performance in the world champs. I expected heavy competition and I got that and I’m just happy for the times I ran,” added Fredericks.

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