Johannesburg – Targeting a new personal best in Zurich on Thursday night, 800m specialist Andre Olivier says he will not rely on his usual tactical approach as he prepares to chase the clock at the penultimate Diamond League meeting of the season.
Olivier is one of five South Africans who will turn out at the first of two legs in the Diamond League final, ahead of next week's second leg in Brussels, which will feature the disciplines not contested in Zurich.
“It's a crazy field with the best 800m runners plus the two best 1 500m runners – Kiprop and Souleiman – who are both very fast over 800m,” Olivier said.
Aside from metric milers Asbel Kiprop of Kenya and Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, the two-lap field in the Swiss city also includes two of the four fastest men in history – world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya and Olivier's training partner, Nijel Amos Ä as well as Ethiopian world champion Mohammed Aman.
The South African, who secured bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last month, holds the slowest season's best in the 12-man field (1:44.42), and pacemaker Sammy Tangui of Kenya is the only other athlete in the line-up who has not broken 1:44.00 in his career.
Olivier proved at the weekend, however, that he was still in fine shape after a long season, clocking the fastest time by a South African (1:15.03) over the unofficial 600m distance in Birmingham.
“I think in a race like this you need to use the opportunity,” he said.
“So I will go out hard, get into a good position, and just keep my head down and run. I'm not going to look at the splits.”
Olivier is lying sixth in the 800m Diamond League series standings, and a surprise victory in the final leg of his event could see him end the season in third position behind Rudisha and Amos.
Elsewhere in Zurich, Cornel Fredericks will hope to retain third place in the men's 400m hurdles season race.
Fredericks cannot catch American Michael Tinsley or Javier Culson of Puerto Rico in the standings, but a top-three finish will enable him to complete the season on the podium.
Sprinter Wayde van Niekerk, like Olivier, is lying sixth in the 400m table, and he too can climb into the top three if he shines against a quality field.
Khotso Mokoena will compete in the men's triple jump event, with no chance of reaching the podium at the close of the season, as his only Diamond League victory of the year was achieved in the long jump discipline in Stockholm last week.
National record holder Simon Magakwe, the only other South African competing in Zurich, will turn out in the men's 100m 'B' race.
While he lines up in the second-tier short sprint, Magakwe will have a fight on his hands, with three other men in the field having previously dipped under the 10-second barrier. – Sapa