PRETORIA – The 400m men’s hurdles is historically always a big race at South African meetings and the event in Tshwane on Thursday, will be no exception with a quality line-up not seen for many years.
This field includes a former world champion, an Olympic silver medallist, an Olympic finalist and a world championship finalist.
Kenyan Nicholas Bett stunned the world when he won the world 400m hurdles title in Beijing in 2015, defeating such illustrious names as Kerron Clement.
In that race he ran his personal best time of 47.79 seconds. That puts him in 27th place on the world all-time list. Bett was disqualified in the heats at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and had to battle with injuries thereafter.
Training in South Africa since the end of 2017 with Irma Reyneke, Bett has already found good form after clocking 48.95 in February in Pretoria and winning the Kenyan Commonwealth Games trials with a 49.14 in Nairobi on February 17.
Based on that form, Bett will be difficult to beat and should start as race favourite.
Qatari's Abderraham Samba, coached by South Africa’s Hennie Kotze, finished seventh at the World Championships in 2017. He is no stranger to South Africa, having run his personal best of 48.31 in Sasolburg on March, 28, 2017.
Another Kenyan Aron Koech, made the finals of the 2016 Olympic Games 400m hurdles where he finished seventh overall, running his personal best of 48.49. He was second at the Kenyan Commonwealth Games Trials in Nairobi, clocking 50.68.
South African LJ van Zyl has been around in the top ranks of 400m hurdling since 2002 when he won the World Junior title in Kingston, Jamaica when he was still only 16. Van Zyl’s best performance at Senior level is his bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
That was also the year he set the South African 400m hurdles record of 47.66.
Constant Pretorius is the 2013 Africa junior 400m hurdles champion and boasts a best of 49.28 set in June 2017 in Tshwane.
He finished third at the South African Championships in Potchefstroom on April 21 with a time of 49.83 behind Le Roux Hamman and Van Zyl.
Pretorius finished fourth in Roodepoort at the first Athletix Grand Prix Series Meeting running 49.72 in only his second race of the season. This is his 5th best time of his career and the seventh time he has gone under 50sec.
Namibian Hardus Maritz has broken 50 on four occasions, boasting a best of 49.48 run in Bruxelles in July in 2017.
With an average time of 49.935, he is a contender in any 400m hurdles race.
African News Agency (ANA)