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LJ beaten in NY

All good things have to come to an end and that proved the case for our hurdles ace LJ van Zyl in a wet New York on Saturday night, writes Mark Etheridge.

Unbeaten this season the national 400 metres hurdles record holder could only manage fourth at the adidas Grand Prix, part of the IAAF Samsung Diamond League Series.

Van Zyl, until Saturday had the season’s five fastest times, but on this occasion clocked a disappointing 49.07 seconds for his slowest performance of the year. Still, had you told him this time last year that that time would be his slowest thus far for 2011 he would have taken it with both hands. His two efforts of 47.66sec are also some way ahead of the pack.

Race honours went to to Puerto Rican Javier Culson who won in a season’s best 48.50 with Bershawn Jackson (US) runner up in 48.55 and European champion David Greene rounding off the podium in 49.07.

Van Zyl still leads the Diamond League race though and has the consolation of being the only man under 48sec this year.

Other South Africans in action were world 800m champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi added another silver to his medal collection with a 1:46.88 clocking. Mulaudzi hit the lead on the final bend and had gold on his mind but Kenyan Alfred Yego blasted past in the final stages to snatch victory in 1:46.57. Prolific talent Abubaker Kaki of Sudan dropped out in the first lap with what looks like a hamstring problem.

In the men’s 400m Bladerunner Oscar Pistorius still seeks the qualification mark for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this year. Still, considering the wet condition he ended fifth in 45.69, a time just 0.08 outside his personal best. Lining up in the first of two 400m race, Pistorius saw American Jeremy Wariner win in 45.13.

Meanwhile in the field events Commonwealth champion in the javelin, Sunette Viljoen had another consistent showing with a solid throw in excess of 60m. The South African hit 60.39m with her third throw, good for second spot behind Germany’s Christina Obergfoll who was a comfortable winner in 64.43m. Viljoen holds third spot in the Diamond League rankings.

There was also an inauspicious Diamond League debut for talented pole vaulter Cheyne Rahme. The Pretoria-based national junior record holder, he was one of four athletes who failed to clear a height. The winner was France’s Romain Mesnil with a 5.52 clearance.


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