One-lap hurdler Cornel Fredericks on Saturday beat World bronze medallist LJ van Zyl at the SA Senior Championships in Port Elizabeth and in the process qualified for the London Olympic Games.
Fredericks had wrestled the title from Van Zyl for the second time in the last three years, clocking a time of 48.91 seconds dipping under the Olympic standard of 49.50.
He first dipped below the qualifying time at last year’s World Championships in Daegu, South Korea when he finished fifth in the final in a time of 49.12.
Van Zyl lagged behind and crossed the line in a lowly 51.00 for the silver medal, with Le Roux Hamman clinching the bronze in a time of 51.34.
“I was quite a bit nervous before the race, it is always tough running at the SA champs because guys like LJ van Zyl and PC Beneke are good competitors,” said Fredericks.
“I told myself to go out hard and keep on running faster and faster and I got the qualifying time.”
Fredericks said it was essential to improve on his times ahead of the Games in July.
“I just want to go faster and hopefully at the Olympic Games I can go faster than 48.50. I think to be competitive at the Olympic Games you need to run faster than 48.50,” he said.
“I’m with a new coach (Bruce Longdon) at the moment so we are still trying out some new stuff hopefully it will pay off later this season.
“I surprised myself at the world championships last year, I surprised myself dipping into the finals because we had tough competition,” said Fredericks.
Earlier, speeding sensation Simon Magakwe ran the fifth fastest time in South African 100m history equalling the 10.11 set by Tshakile Nzimande in 1988.
Magakwe said on Saturday that he was confident that he would be able to break Johan Rossouw’s 24-year-old record of 10.06 this year.
“As people have seen this year I am in good shape, I think soon the South African record will be cleared,” said Magakwe.
He was followed by Roscoe Engel in second position with a time of 10.20 and Hannes Dreyer in third place posting a time of 10.42.
South African javelin record holder Sunette Viljoen on Saturday became the second athlete to qualify for the London Olympic Games.
She reached the Olympic qualifying distance of 61 metres by the narrowest of margins with a heave of 61.15m at the SA Senior Championships in Port Elizabeth.
Viljoen now joins world 400m bronze medallist LJ van Zyl, who booked his place at an inter-club meeting a fortnight ago.
She got over the qualifying distance with her second last throw with Gerlize de Klerk finishing second with a heave of 52.83m. Gezelle Bernard took the bronze medal with a distance of 49.89.
“I think all the pressure is off you, now you can just relax and focus on your training leading into London,” said Viljoen.
“I have a few Diamond League meetings coming up which I am looking forward to so much. My first meeting is on May 11 in Doha.”
Viljoen has been struggling with a niggling hip injury in the build-up to the SA championships but it did not bother her much on Saturday.
“It is not 100 percent fine yet, it is still a little bit sore but today it held up which I am very happy about but 85 percent of it is healed now.
“Now it is just to nurse it and take good care of it. Luckily there is no pressure of competing before I am totally healed now,” she said.
Viljoen reached the qualifying distance for the first time at last year's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea where she improved her SA record with a heave of 68.38m.
“My whole preparations leading up to this season after Daegu has been really good. My conditioning cycle, my strength cycle, my technique cycle I am very happy about,” said Viljoen.
“My training is going according to plan while London is a whole new ball game. It is positive to know you have won the bronze but that is in the past,” she said.
“I really want to win an Olympic medal because it is going to be my third Olympic Games... those are the goals I set out for myself this season.”
However, Viljoen said her first goal was to reach the final and she would approach it step-by-step. – Sapa