The name LJ van Zyl is synonymous with 400m hurdles in South Africa. He is, after all, the SA record-holder (47.66), a former World Junior Champion, a three time Olympian and double African champion in the one lap hurdles event.
Now retired, the 33-year-old Van Zyl is enjoying his new occupation as a sports management lecturer at UP-Tuks Faculty of Education. He has also taken to commentary and was on duty for SuperSport at the first leg of Varsity Athletics 2019 at Coetzenburg in Stellenbosch last week.
“I had a great view of the action from the commentary box and could see the talent coming through from the next generation. The new Coetzenburg track is a great investment that can only benefit athletics as a whole. Maties really deserve all the plaudits coming their way after the refurbishment of the track,” Van Zyl said in an interview with Varsity Sports.
When asked about the general state of 400m hurdles in South Africa, Van Zyl said that he is excited about the new wave of talent that’s coming through in the event. “I hope we will see a 48’ this year – to be regarded as world class you have got to be able to run a 48 at least. The last 48 was posted by myself at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Between Soks (Sokwakhana Zazini), Le Roux Hamman and Lindsay Hanekom in the men’s it is very possible as they are all very talented athletes. Zeney van der Walt (UP-Tuks) is the brightest prospect in the ladies 400m hurdles – she has all the tools to be the next SA record holder,” Louis Jacobus said.
When asked about his thoughts on Varsity Athletics, Van Zyl confidently said: “Varsity Cup is the best idea ever for South African sport. Not just rugby and athletics but all the other sports under the Varsity Sports umbrella,” he concluded.
By Shafiek Mouton @fiekie7 on Twitter