Johannesburg – South African Olympic Games medal hopeful LJ van Zyl advanced to the final of the men’s 400m hurdles on the second day of the African Athletics Championships in Cotonou, Benin, on Thursday.
Van Zyl returned back to action from an injury forced break from the track with a pedestrian time of 51.87 seconds.
The 26-year-old Van Zyl has been struggling with his form this season and his performances so far have been in stark contrast to last year.
His best time this season was an Olympic qualifying time of 49.42sec he ran at an inter-provincial meeting in April.
The South African record holder clocked the four fastest times in the world in the 400m hurdles last year, setting a new national record of 47.66sec at the beginning of 2011.
With Van Zyl reaching the final he is still on track to win his fourth consecutive African title, a feat no other athlete has achieved before.
Meanwhile, double amputee Oscar Pistorius and Willie de Beer qualified for the men's 400 metres final in their respective semi-finals.
De Beer finished second in the first semi-final in a time of 46.33 seconds while Pistorius clocked 46.14sec to book his place for the final.
The final will be Pistorius' last chance to realise his dream of competing at next month’s London Olympic Games in the men’s one-lap sprint.
Pistorius must set the standard of 45.30 one more time to satisfy South Africa's stringent qualifying criteria after he had met the qualifying standard in Pretoria for the first time in March with a time of 45.20.
He has since struggled to dip below the qualifying time on the European circuit in recent months.– Sapa