Van Zyl set for Diamond League opener

Pretoria - LJ van Zyl’s international campaign for the season will start on Saturday when he competes in the 200m hurdles at the Great City Games in Manchester.

The event will take place at the purpose-built athletics arena in Albert Square in the heart of the city. It will provide a unique opportunity to see top athletes from across the globe competing in an urban environment and it will not be surprising if more than 20 000 fans should turn up to watch the action.

According to the Tuks/HPC athlete this is one of his favourite meetings on the European Athletics calendar, especially because it is in aid of charity.

Van Zyl has a good track record in Manchester. In 2013 he won the 200m hurdles in a time of 20.63 seconds.

Only Britain’s Andy Turner (20.11 in 2011) and the United States’ Bershawn Jackson (22.26, also in 2011) has run faster times than the South African.

“The Great City Games will be an excellent warm-up for me before I compete in the Diamond League meeting in Doha (May 15),” said Van Zyl, who has already qualified on four occasions this season for the World Championships in Beijing. His best time so far was 49.26.

“Doha is very special to me. It is where I won my first major international race in 2005. I also hold the meeting record with a time of 48.11.”

Van Zyl has run times faster than 49 seconds in the 400m hurdles on approximately 48 occasions. His best performance so far was in 2011 when he set the South African record of 47.66 seconds in Pretoria.

“I know the first time I was able to do so was in 2002 when I was just 16,” he said.

“My guess is that it is probably correct to say that I have run times faster than 49 seconds on 48 occasions. Perhaps I should sit down and count how many times I have done it. I would love to take my tally up to at least 50.”

“One of my immediate goals at the moment is to break 49 seconds again. I am confident that I will be able to do so in Doha. After winning the South African title in Stellenbosch I took a short break to recharge my batteries for the international season. Since I am back on the track my training has gone very well.”

Van Zyl will compete in the Diamond League Meeting in New-York on June 13 and maybe in Rome as well on June 4.

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