Johannesburg – Andre Olivier and LJ van Zyl are both expecting fast races when they line up in their respective events at the second Diamond League athletics meeting of the season in Shanghai.
Olivier, who clocked an impressive 800m indoor career record of 1:44.99 in Birmingham in February, set an outdoor season's best of 1:45.39 to finish seventh in a closely contested, tactical race at the Diamond League opener in Doha last week.
“I think the race will be quicker in Shanghai but I'm not really worried about running fast times at the moment. I just want to be competitive,” Olivier said.
After closing his indoor campaign with a fourth-place finish at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot in March, Olivier opened his outdoor season with a comfortable victory at the SA Senior Championships in Pretoria last month.
He struggled in Doha, however, after experiencing flight problems and arriving on the day of the meeting.
The rising South African middle-distance star was hoping for a better build-up and an improved performance this weekend, in the absence of dominant Ethiopian star Mohammed Aman.
Of the 12 men in the field, six have run faster than Olivier in their careers, but only American Erik Sowinski and Kenyan Jeremiah Mutai have gone quicker this year.
“I just hope I feel good after the race because I wasn't really happy after Doha,” he said.
Former Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion LJ van Zyl, the only other SA athlete competing in Shanghai, was gearing up for an assault on his season's best.
Van Zyl coasted to victory in 48.96 seconds at the Pukke permit meeting in Sasolburg in March, his fastest time in three seasons, and he believed he was ready to go even faster.
“I practiced the first three hurdles in training (on Wednesday) morning,” he said before leaving for Shanghai.
“Based on the times I did in that session, I'm in shape for a solid sub-49.”
Van Zyl will face a formidable field including American trio Bershawn Jackson, Michael Tinsley and Johnny Dutch, as well as world champion Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago. – Sapa