Reigning Africa 400m hurdles champion LJ van Zyl will be looking to defend his title and win his fourth consecutive title at the Africa Senior Championships in Benin next week.

“Achieving this will be very special as no other athlete has ever done it. It won’t be easy, but I am going to try my best,” said van Zyl. He won in 2006 (Bambous, Mauritius), 2008 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and 2010 (Nairobi, Kenya).

Nigerian Amaechi Morton is the fastest African athlete this season with a 48.79 clocked in Des Moines in the US, and is currently ranked sixth in the world. Next in line is South African Cornel Fredericks who has been exempted from competing at the Africa Senior Championships as he is currently overseas preparing for the Olympics.

Mozambican athlete Kurt Couto and Mamadou Kasse Hanne from Senegal have faster times than Van Zyl this season, Couto’s best being 49.02sec in Praha and Hanne’s 49.04sec clocked in Angers.

“I haven’t run a good time yet this year and the competition in Africa will be strong,” said Van Zyl.

The SA record holder has struggled with a knee irritation and his best time this season was clocked at 49.42sec on April 5 when he reached the Olympic qualifying time of 49.50sec.

He believes Africa will be the ideal platform to test whether he is on the right track for the Olympic Games in London.

The CAA Africa Senior Championships will take place in Porto Novo, Benin from June 27 to July 1.