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New kid on the block set to shake up the hurdles scene
- Updated: February 17, 2016
In recent years one of the biggest showdowns at the South African Athletics Championships since 2010 has been the battle for 400-metres hurdles supremacy between LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks.
Fredericks has been victorious on four occasions and Van Zyl (Tuks/HPC) on two.
However, at this year’s national championships in Stellenbosch, the two of them might not have it all their own way. Listening to Lindsay Hanekom, reigning South African Under-23 and SA Students 400-hurdles champion, talking about his aspirations it seems there could be a changing of the guard in the foreseeable future.
‘I’m not saying that I’ll beat them, but I’m certainly going to do my best to do so. What counts in my favour is that I have nothing to lose. Both LJ and Cornel have titles and reputations to defend. For now I’m just running to enjoy myself and that is a nice position to be in,’ said Hanekom (Tuks/HPC).
Then he adds, smilingly: ‘Remember LJ and Cornel are not getting any younger.’
Fredericks predicted in January that the 22-year-old Hanekom is an athlete to watch and had no hesitation in describing Hanekom as a talented hurdler.
And the Tuks/HPC athlete has just reason to be slightly ‘cocky’. At a league meeting at Pilditch this past weekend he ran a time of 46.54 seconds in the 400m and 21.57 in the 200 metres.
It was Hanekom’s first two races of the season, both are personal bests and he’ll be in action again this Saturday. It has not yet been decided in which event he will compete, but it won’t be the 400-hurdles. The first time he will run the 400-hurdles again, looks like being at the Gauteng North Championships in March.
Interesting to note is that Hanekom has managed to improve his time for the 400-hurdles by more than 10 seconds over the past four years. In his first ever 400-hurdles race he was timed at 63 seconds and last year his personal best was 50.00.
Coach Nico van Heerden, is confident Hanekom is capable of qualifying for the Olympics in Rio where the qualifying A-standard is 49.40.
‘Lindsay’s injury woes are at long last something of the past and these past few weeks he was able to do quality work during his training sessions. What excites me as coach about Lindsay is his hunger to succeed.’
Hanekom sees Fredericks as his role model. ‘Cornel is one of the nicest athletes I’ve ever met. He never hesitates to give me pointers about what I should or should not do to become a better hurdler. What I really appreciate about him is his modesty in spite of all he has achieved. I strive to be like him. Hopefully I will also not allow success to go to my head should I be able to win some big international races.’
Soccer is Hanekom’s other big passion. He’s an ardent Liverpool supporter and a handy striker himself when he played some games for ‘Young Rovers’ in Cape Town.
‘I honestly believe I could’ve made a name for myself as a soccer player. Perhaps I still can if I choose to do so, but I have chosen athletics. What I love about athletics is that it’s an individual sport and, therefore, what you put in is what you get out.’
Picture of Hanekom courtesy of Tuks Athletics