LJ and Co in medal hunt | SASCOC - SASCOC

LJ and Co in medal hunt

By Mark Etheridge

Top of the medal standings after two days of competition, South Africa’s medal hunt continues at the 17th African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.

South African now have two golds, a silver and three bronze medals to boast with as the tournament reaches day three of five.

World champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi’s withdrawal from the 800-metre with injury means we will miss out on what looked like a certain medal, be it gold, silver or bronze.

But in hurdlers LJ Van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks there are definitely medal hopes. The two go off in Friday’s 400m hurdles final. They’re second and third fastest respectively but defending champion Van Zyl can surely be relied on to go a lot faster than the 49.73 he ran in qualifying.

Only Senegal’s Mamadou Kasse Hanne was quicker in the heats with his 49.45.

Fredericks, the new kid on the block but national champion in the event this year, clocked 49.82 and with the form he’s been showing on his European trip there’s definitely a chance he can medal. He improved with every outing in Europe, culminating with a 48.99sec time in Finland earlier this month.

“African championships are a big highlight for me. I so badly want to do well,” said Stellenbosch-based Fredericks. “I have this feeling in me that everytime I get onto the track I must always run at my best and never dissapoint the people that come to watch the athletics and keep South Africa’s name high and also make my family proud. They are always behind me in everything I do.”

Another big medal chance comes in the shape of defending champion Elizna Naude in the discus. Now based in Pretoria the schoolteacher qualified for Commonwealth Games in February already with a great throw of 64.49m, taking the pressure off herself right away.

“Because Commonwealth is late in the year I decided not to go and compete in Europe early in the season and decided to rather stay at home and train hard. I’ll probably go and compete at a few meetings after that. The World Cup (now known as the Continental Cup) in September is also a stepping stone to Commonwealth because its a nice strong competition.

“I don’t like making predictions before a big competition because then if you don’t meet them you have to look for excuses but I am obviously out to try and win the competition and then build on that going forward to Commonwealth Games.”