Hurdles athlete

LJ van Zyl

Be it 1950s legend Gert Potgieter or Sydney Olympics gold medallist Llewellyn Herbert, South Africa has been blessed when it comes to 400 m hurdlers. Current national record-holder LJ van Zyl is no different. Bursting on to the scene in 2001 when he bagged gold at the World Junior championships in Kingston, Jamaica, Van Zyl has built a career littered with successes, including a first-place finish at both the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia and the 2010 African Championships in Kenya.

Van Zyl feels his best performances come when he’s donning the green and gold and that will be no different when he competes at the London Olympics, where he will be hoping to improve on his fifth place at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Although you’d be hard-pressed to believe he’s ever failed in his career, he says he uses the “many disappointments” he’s experienced on the track to develop his skills and improve each performance.

— Nickolaus Bauer

Twitter: @ljvanzyl