LJ's injury worries | SASCOC - SASCOC

LJ’s injury worries

Olympic hurdles medal hopeful LJ van Zyl will miss this week’s Diamond League meeting in Oslo, Norway due to ongoing injury concerns, writes Mark Etheridge.

Van Zyl, the fastest 400m hurdler in the world last year with his 47.66sec best (achieved on two occasions), has struggled to find that form again this year, finishing a well-beaten second at nationals in Port Elizabeth and failing to break 49 seconds this season.

Van Zyl has returned to South Africa from his Italian training base, reportedly to see a specialist. The problem is believed to be tendinitis and there appears real concern in some circles that he may not recover in time for the Olympic Games later this year.

But coach Hennie Kotze put on a brave face on Tuesday. “We believe and trust that LJ will be 100% right and in time to go to the Games. He’s busy seeing doctors right now who will help him right. We should have more clarity next week,” he told Road to London 2012.

In Van Zyl’s absence in Oslo, SA 400m hurdles champion Cornel Fredericks will be in action on Thursday night. Fredericks has a best of 48.91 this season and ended third in the Rome leg of the Diamond League Series.

Heading the line-up is Puerto Rican Javier Culson who has a best of 48.00 this year. The only other athlete quicker than Fredericks is Trinidad’s Jehue Gordon with a 48.89.

Other South Africans in the line-up are Simon Magakwe in the men’s 100m and Elroy Gelant in the 5000m.

Magakwe has so far failed to carried his fine local form over to the European circuit and will be hoping that it’s third time lucky that he comes up against world record-holder Usain Bolt. The South African has bettered the Olympic A standard qualifying time of 10.18 on six occasions this season as well as equalling the long-standing national mark (10.06) of Johan Rossouw.

But in his two races against Bolt, he hasn’t looked happy, first being disqualified for a false start and then a pedestrian start in Rome saw him trailing in last with a 10.33 clocking.

Hopefully the nerves will be something of the past and he can show the true form that he’s capable of in Oslo. Certainly he’s not a worried man. Speaking to Road to London 2012 on Tuesday he said: “I’m not that happy with the times but according to what I’ve been doing until now I feel that its OK at this stage. If I get a good start I think I can run much quicker. And I’m not nervous now ÔÇô I’m good and looking forward to the Oslo race.”

Gelant will have his work cut out in the seven-and-a-half lapper. At least 14 of the 21-strong field have quicker times this season than his 13:25.98, with the quicker being Ethiopia’s Imane Merga with a 12:54.21.