L.J. van Zyl produced another sizzling early season performance in the 400m Hurdles to highlight the South African national championships in Durban over the weekend (9-10).
The 25-year-old, already the world leader at 47.66 after his national record run at altitude in Pretoria in late February, won a thrilling face-off against Cornell Fredericks in 47.73, the second fastest performance of his career and his third sub-48-second performance.
It was also a major breakthrough for the 21-year-old Fredericks, the reigning African championships silver medallist, who ran nearly stride for stride with van Zyl before reaching the line in 48.14 to knock a massive 0.65 from his personal best set last year in Nairobi.
One of the major highlights on the infield came in the men's Long Jump on Saturday, where reigning Olympic silver medallist Godrey Mokoena prevailed with an 8.29m leap, albeit aided by a 3.2 meter/second wind. His best non-wind-aided leap was 8.13m, just shy of his 8.17m season's best. Nineteen-year-old Luvo Manyonga, last year's World junior champion in the event, was a distant second, reaching 7.94m (w +3.4).
In a span of less than 90 minutes, Caster Semenya, the World 800m champion, took a middle distance double on Sunday. The 20-year-old first took her speciality in 2:02:10, beating Mapaseka Makhanya (2:04.52) by more than two seconds, then came back with a 4:12.93 victory in the metric mile beating back Dinahrose Lebogang Phalula (4:13.89).
The men's 800m went to Samson Ngoepe who clocked 1:45.69 to easily hold off Daniel Nghipandulwa, whose 1:46.62 was a national record for Namibia. Veteran Juan van Deventer prevailed in a tactical 1500m, winning in a 3:40.16 over 2010 champion Steven Mokoka (3:40.65) and Pharson Magagane (3:40.80).
Mokoka had a long and busy Sunday which began at shortly after 8 am with the 10,000m which he won nearly 25 seconds, in 28:06.65, a persona best.
In a largely solo run, Ruben Ramolefi won the men's 3000m Steeplechase by more than 15 seconds in 8:14.06, an early season world lead for the 32-year-old.
Elsewhere, Simon Magakwe won the 100m in 10.31 (+0.2), 18-year-old Wayde van Niekerk the 200m with a 20.57 (+1.4) PB, and Lebogang Moeng the 400m in 45.57. On the women's side, 22-year-old Carina Horn took home a double win, taking the 100m in 11.68, a PB, and the 200m in 23.47 (+3.2).
As expected the Javelin Throw titles went to Robert Oosthuizen (81.18m) and Sunette Viljoen (58.70m).