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Hlaselo in a hurry

By Mark Etheridge

South African Dumisani Hlaselo’s 2011 track season is up and running, albeit on foreign soil.

The former Free State University athlete dashed his way to to a sub four-minute mile at an indoor meeting in Seattle at the weekend.

Competing at the Husky Classic, Hlaselo, 21, stopped the clock at 3min 56.84 for third place in a race won by Chris Solinsky (3:54.52). The event saw no less than nine athletes dipping under the four-minute mark.

Putting that into perspective, the fastest two times for the outdoor mile by South Africans last year were Juan van Deventer’s 3:54.12 and Peter van der Westhuizen’s 3:54.90, run in Eugene, Oregon and Oslo, Norway respectively.

Hlaselo is currently based in Florida. “I’m currently living in Gainesville where I’m studying Applied Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Florida,” he told Road to London 2012. “I came to UF as a transfer student from UFS in South Africa last August. My mom still lives in Daveyton, next to Benoni and I have to admit I miss her and my sibling awfully much.”

“The competition at my race was very intense but I was prepared to be competitive as my goal is to be competitive and staying as healthy as I come this year. I didn’t really have a good start as there were 15 guys pushing and┬áshoving┬áat the same time to get a right spot. But it happens so I am used to it.

“I came third behind American 10,000m record holder Solinsky. My goal is to improve my PB in the 1500m and be competitive as I can. I’ll probably try and qualify for the world champs which are coming up this year but my biggest concern will be my education because by that time university will be open even though we get a two months break from June until August.”

Hlaselo’s burgeoning career took a few steps back in 2008-2009 due to injury. “I had ITB [knee] problems so I was out for almost a year without running, doing rehab and going through medical check-ups each and every month. It was depressing and complicated at the same time because they could not figure out what was wrong with me even though I told them where it was hurting. I just did whatever was necessary with rehabilitation and went through everything because I wanted to run so bad.

“Late in November ┬á2009 I was able to finish my workout once in a while so I guess I started getting better. From there I told myself I will try by all means to stay healthy, regain my strength and confidence and pick up from where I left off in 2008.”