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Cronje captures South African 1500m record in Qatar

Twenty years of South African track history was left for dust in Doha on Friday night as former SA 1500-metre champion Johan Cronje broke the national record, writes Mark Etheridge.

Running the opening Diamond League meeting in the Qatar city, Cronje stopped the clocks in 3min 33.46sec.

That was good for eighth spot behind Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop (3:31.13) and also good enough to clip 0.10sec off Matie Johan Landsman’s old mark set in Zurich, Switzerland in 1993.

Running with the leaders after the start of the last lap, Cronje lost touch on the final bend but was pulled through by the leading bunch to break the old SA mark.

One of the first to congratulate Bloemfonteiner Cronje on his achievement was SA middle-distance legend Johan Fourie. “Well done Johan. You’re a worthy new SA recordholder. And it’s only May now. There’s more to come!”

Cronje, who celebrated his 31st birthday last month, failed to qualify for last year’s Olympics after a lengthy battle with injuries, but his patience has now patently paid off.

The Doha track is clearly a lucky one for him and its the same track that he set an SA Under-23 mark back in 2002.

Other South Africans in action were 2012 Olympians LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks in the 400m hurdles.

Neither made it past the first round in London but big things are expected from them this year, a world championship year.

Fredericks, now training in Pretoria with 2011 world champs bronze medallist Van Zyl, took third in 49.35 behind

Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinley (48.92) while Van Zyl always looked slightly off the pace to end sixth in 50.74.

Van Zyl has been quick to point out that this season is a long season and hasn’t tested himself over this distance to date this year.


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