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Zazini blitzes to 400m hurdles world youth best
- Updated: March 20, 2017
Teenager Sokwakhana Zazini (TuksSport High School) proved without doubt that he’s one for the big moment as he set a new world youth record in the 400-metre hurdles at the weekend.
Zazini won in a time of 48.84 seconds during the Gauteng North Championships at the University of Pretoria, and his time is 0.17sec faster than that run by American William Wynne in 2007.
What made this performance remarkable, is that even before Zazini had settled down in his starting blocks it had been predicted that the record was going to go. The reason for this was his performance last week at the Gauteng Schools Championship in Germiston, where he won in 49.53s which was, at the time, the second-fastest ever by a youth athlete (U18).
The youngster was never going to allow the expectations to get to him. The moment the starters’ gun was fired, he set out to challenge the stopwatch with the greatest of confidence.
An ecstatic Zazini was at first left speechless by his own performance, but when he realised what he had achieved, a big grin appeared on his face. ‘We have really been working towards breaking the record. To do so is an amazing experience.’
Even Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Champion, Cornel Fredericks, who won the men’s 400m hurdles in a time of 49.27s was impressed.
‘Sokwakhana has what it takes to become the next real deal in the 400m-hurdles, but it’s important that from now on he needs to be managed properly.’
‘I ran against William Wynne when he set the record of 49.01s at the World Youth Championships. It was predicted that he was going to be a real champion. It never happened. He was constantly injured and his career just fizzled out without him fulfilling his potential.
‘My advice to Sokwakhana is to remember that any athlete is only as good as his last race. It would be unfair to him if there is too big a fuss made about this achievement. He should always remain hungry to run a faster time.’
According to Hennie Kriel, who coaches the Tuks athlete, what makes Zazini such an exciting prospect is his hunger to succeed. ‘I have no doubt that he can be the best, especially since he is a quick learner. We are still working at his hurdling technique to get it to be more efficient,’ said Kriel.
Zazini also excels over the flat 400 metres. Last year his performance at the South African Junior and Youth Championships in Germiston was remarkable. In the space of an hour he won the 400m in 47.23s and finished second in the 400-hurdles final, running 50.85.
If Kriel has his way, Zazini will continue doing that 400-hurdles/400m combination for quite a few more years.
Picture of Zazini hurdling his way to victory courtesy of Reg Caldecott