LJ: 'It gets easier' | SASCOC - SASCOC

LJ: ‘It gets easier’

High-flying hurdler LJ van Zyl can give himself a big high-fivesÔǪ he now holds the world’s five fastest times of the year in the 400-metre hurdles event, writes Mark Etheridge.

The South African’s 47.66sec victory in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Tuesday equalled his SA record set in Tshwane in February when he beat Llewellyn Herbert’s 11-year-old record.

Van Zyl’s five world-leading times this year are the two 47.66 efforts, 47.73, 47.91 and 48.11. His next outing will be the adidas Grand Prix in New York.

Commenting on his electric form, Van Zyl said: “My rhythm and speed right now are straight from the textbookÔǪ this is what I have been striving to achieve for so long now. Now I have a picture in my head what its like to run 47sec and the more I do it the easier it gets. Of the five sub-48’s I’ve now run this last one was definitely the easiest.

“The thing is now to keep working hard so that I can stay race-sharp leading to world championships at the end of August. Right now I’m not really worried about times. The way I look at it, I’m just trying to win every race I run, the big times will come on their own.

For now though Van Zyl is in Nijmegen in the Netherlands where he has been joined by coach Hennie Kotze. And the biggest obstacle he now faces is a dietary one. “Hennie is cooking for us and I’ve never eaten so many vegetables in my life. I’m normally a meat and potatoes type of guy,” he laughed.

“Next step is New York on June 11. I’m really looking forward to that one, not that I’m that mad about New York itself. For a farmboy like me New York is something else!,” said the Molteno athlete.

On the global scale 20 athletes have gone faster than Van Zyl in his event but of his current rivals, just three in the shape of Kerron Clement, Bershawn Jackson and Johnny Dutch, the last of whom he beat in Ostrava on Tuesday.