Van Zyl, Fredericks resume their rivalry

LJ van Zyl.

ATHLETICS NEWS - One of the most exciting rivalries will resume on Friday in Potchefstroom when LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks battle it out to become the South African 400-hurdles champion.

The two of them have been dominating the event over the last nine years with both Tuks-athletes winning the title on four occasions. Van Zyl was victorious in 2008, 2011 and 2015 and 2016 while Fredericks won in 2010 and 2012 through to 2014.

It would be foolish to predict who is going to come out tops this time round as time-wise they are only separated by 0.02s. Fredericks tops the local rankings so far this season with a best time of 49.27s while Van Zyl’s best time is 49.29s.

It is actually uncanny how similar their achievements over the years have been. In 2006 Van Zyl was the Commonwealth Champion while Fredericks won the title in 2014. Last year Van Zyl finished third in the Diamond League standings. Fredericks did so in 2014.

The 31-year-old Van Zyl has become sort of an institution at the various national age groups championships over the last 21 years. He remembers competing at his first championships way back in 1995 when he was nine years old. Since then he has missed out only once. It was in 1999 when he was undergoing rugby trials at Grey College.

The Tuks-athlete won his first national title in 2005, beating the then national record holder and hurdling legend, Llewellyn Herbert. He was also victorious in 2006.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Van Zyl, who has just right to claim that he has been there, done that and got the T-shirt, has lost his hunger to lay claim to being South Africa’s best 400m-hurdler.

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