Van Zyl secures his spot at the Olympics, KZN athletes come out on top at the Old Mutual Two Oceans

2012-04-11 00:00

SOUTH African 400 m hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl ran 49,42 seconds in the 400 m hurdles at the Yellow Pages Inter-club meeting to secure his place in London Olympics.

This is the second qualifying time for Van Zyl whose 48,80 World Championship bronze medal performance in Daegu counts as his international qualification. He will, however, have to compete in this weekend’s Yellow Pages Senior SA Track and Field Championships in PE to have his place guaranteed.

Van Zyl clocked the four fastest times in the world in his specialist event last year, setting a new national record of 47,66 seconds on the same track at the beginning of 2011.

Sprinter Simon Magakwe added a 100 m Olympic qualifying time to the 200 m he set in Potchefstroom two weeks ago. Magakwe’s clocked the fastest SA time of the year of 10,16 seconds, dipping below the 10,18 qualifying time.

Women’s sprinter, Tolofelo Thipe, also ran a qualifying time in the 400 m, adding to the qualifying standard she set in the 200 m in Potchefstroom. The clocking of 51,52 left the competition trailing with Sonja van der Merwe (52,75) and Estie Wittstock in third in 52,87.

The championships take place on Friday and Saturday at the university track in PE.

Marathoner Tanith Maxwell has effectively her last chance to qualify for the London Olympics this weekend when she lines up at the Rotterdam Marathon. The Boxer athlete will need to get under two hours, 36 minutes to make the grade and then hope that her time is amongst the top three in South Africa for the selection date. At present Rene Kalmer heads the women with a 2:29.59 mark.

KZN athletes enjoyed some prominence in the results of the Easter weekend’s Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon. Pride of place went to Stephen Muzhingi, who became only the second runner ever to win the Two Oceans and Comrades in the same 12-month period. In 1974 Westville’s Derek Preiss achieved the double in the same year, whereas Muzhingi make his mark with his third Comrades victory in May 2011 followed by the Two Oceans in April 2012.

The Zimbabwean is a class act and with an extremely mature attitude to racing. At the pre-race conference he stated that he would improve his time and if that were good enough to win he would take the victory. A man of his word, the Durban-based runner took his time to 3:08.08 and would have gone a few seconds faster had it not been for slipping in the mud bath as he turned into the final straight.

He was followed in close succession by Malawian Henry Moyo and his countryman Collen Makaza, before Gert Thys secured fourth, first 40-49 and first SouthAfrican.

Pietermaritzburg’s Bongmusa Mthembu was the leading home-grown KZN runner in fifth in 3:10.16 which suggests he will again feature in the Comrades Golds.

Shaun Meiklejohn also looks set for an impressive run on June 3 when he finished second to Vladimir Kotov in the 50-59 age group in 3:54.49. Meiklejohn was not significantly stretched in the race for silver, but in June will expect to play second fiddle to Kotov who ran 3:32.47.

The other highlight of the day came from SA national Marathon Record holder Gert Thys, who had battled with his blood sugar levels, but went on to astound the media conference with his declaration that he would be debuting at Comrades and felt that the current record was set at a jogging pace, and that a sub five-hour time was possible. His 2:06.44 will make him the fastest marathoner to attempt Comrades.

One of the easiest and most historic qualifiers for the Comrades marathon will be held on Saturday from the Bergville Farmers Hall at 6 am.

The Arthur Cresswell Memorial 52 km from Bergville to Ladysmith is a relatively easy run. Number collection is on Friday from 2 pm to 6 pm at the Ladysmith Sport Centre or Saturday at the start from 2.30 am to 5.30 am.

More information on this event is available at 076 536 7070

For those looking for a shorter outing, Toti Athletic club offer the annual DickKing half marathon and 15 km. Renier Fouche has details at 084 504 9808.

Up the North Coast the feature event is the scenic Exxaro KZN Sands Marathon and 21 km, which commences from Addison Park at 5.30 am.

Lionel Qwabe has details at 084 429 0305.

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