Event: Women’s Long Distances Date of birth: 1985/04/09 Personal bests: 800m (2:03.36),...
LJ Van Zyl
Event: Men’s 400m Hurdles
Date of birth: 1985/20/07
Personal bests: 400m (44.86), 400mH (47.66, SA record)
400m Hurdles: 2002 World Junior Championships, Kingston (1st, final); 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne (1st, final); 2006 IAAF World Cup, Athens (2nd, final); 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing (5th, final); 2011 World Championships, Daegu (3rd, final)
A teenage prodigy, LJ van Zyl stormed to victory at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, the day before his 17th birthday, and promised to continue South Africa’s rich tradition in the men’s 400 metres hurdles.
Two years later in Grosseto he missed the podium when he finished fourth at the global juniors, and began a largely successful career which has ebbed and flowed ever since.
Van Zyl made the step up to senior level when he won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, but he missed out on a medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he finished fifth.
His breakthrough season came in 2011, after grabbing silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, when he clocked a new national record of 47.66 seconds in Pretoria in February to set the tone for a fine year.
He repeated that record time three months later in Ostrava and he held his own at the World Championships in Daegu, where he secured the bronze medal.
Van Zyl struggled with injuries in 2012, withdrawing during the African Championships in Porto Novo, and crashing out in the first round of the London Olympic Games.
He again bombed out in the first round at the World Championships in Moscow the following season, and after showing glimpses of his best form early in the 2014 campaign, breaking 49 seconds for the first time in three years, he was eliminated in the heats at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
He is married to long distance runner Irvette van Zyl.