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LJ's Diary from Daegu


Follow top SA athlete LJ van Zyl as he keeps us up to date with the goings on at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Sunday, 4 September

I had my last training session here in Daegu. My season is far from over.


I went shopping for souvenirs for friends and family back home. My bags are so heavy, I'm sure my luggage will be over the weight limit, but I will worry about that tomorrow.


There will be a huge party toninght. I can already hear the music blaring in the background and the evening athletics session is only about to start now.


The whole team will be in the stadium tonight to cheer Caster (Semenya) on.


I had a great stay in Daegu, but I am now ready to move on.

Saturday, 3 September

I'm not really one for big celebrations, but I had an ice cold bear with my coach Hennie (Kotze) after the relay final. (South Africa, with van Zyl bringing the team home, claimed a silver medal in the 4x400m relay on Thursday). We had a nice chat about the season ahead. The season is far from over for me.


All the questions about Oscar (Pistorus) being left out of the relay team for the final was a bit unsettling. It was a difficult situation, because Oscar is only allowed to start (in a relay race - a decision made by the IAAF). Who were we meant to leave out? The decision was made on merit. Oscar had the slowest split in the heats and the decision was based on that. It would not have made sense to leave any of the other three out as they were brilliant. (As the fastest 400m runner in South Africa Van Zyl's position in the starting line-up was never in doubt).


Yes, the time in the final was a bit slower than the time in the heats, but the final was a more tactical race.



It was an overwhelming experience to get on the podium at the world championships...and to do it twice in the space of 10 minutes was really special. It is certainly one of the big highlights of my career.


I'm leaving for Europe on Monday. I have two more meetings left in the Diamond League, one in Berlin and the last one in Brussels. I'm still in with a chance of winning a diamond.


I will not be able to attend the closing ceremony on Sunday.

Thursday, 1 September

Thank goodness it's over. It was a long couple of days here in Daegu.


I really gave it my all. The time I ran is not important, it is the medal that counts.


How was there no false start? I couldn't see much from where I started in Lane 8.


It is a pity I went over the ninth hurdle with the wrong leg and that I ended up clipping the hurdle, but I am so pleased with the medal. I worked realy hard for it.


Look out for me at tomorrow's (Friday's) medal ceremony.

Sunday, 28 August

Greetings from Daegu!

I saw the physiotherapist for the last time this morning. My bib number is pinned onto my running vest and I am now ready to race. (Van Zyl starts his World Cup campaign on Monday morning at 4:30 SA time in the heats of the 400m Hurdles).


I’m very happy for Oscar for going through to the semifinals of the 400m (double amputee Pistorius finished 14th fastest in Sunday's heats to qualify for Monday evening's semifinals).


The expectations before the first round of a big meeting are always the worst. I've been drawn in Heat 2, Lane 6 for my opening race.

I will be out of reach until the final (of the 400m on Thursday). It is now time to go underground to focus on my main task.

Saturday, 27 August

The World Championships is under way and everybody is very excited. It was a huge shock though that Steve Hooker bombed out in the pole vault qualification. (The injury-plagued Australian, the defending world champion and current Olympic and Commonwealth champion, did not register a mark after failing three times at 5.50m during Saturday morning's qualification).


I did sets this morning over the first two hurdles for the last time before Monday's race. I'm ready for the challenge!


I'm now on my way to adidas (my sponsor) to try and organise my friend Lehann (Fourie) a pair of size 14 spikes. He tore his one shoe and is in desperate need of a new pair.

Friday, 26 August

Asafa Powell withdrawing from the sprints is a huge blow . I know him very well. He was the only athlete that could have challenged Usain Bolt.


We are having a great time here. The spirit in the team is fantastic. We received our bin numbers yesterday. I will be running with the number 900 on my bib. I should have given this number to Godfrey [Mokoena].

Ruben (Ramolefi) and I were allocated single rooms in the athlete's village - we are the veterans in the team after all. [This is Van Zyl's fourth World Championships. He made his World Championships debut in 2005 in Helsinki].

I haven't been sleeping too well. I still feel a bit jet-lagged as Daegu is seven hours ahead of South Africa.


I had a good rest today, I didn't go near the track. I stayed in bed most of the day and played a bit of pool with my teammates. I'm not very good at pool, but I still managed to beat them!

Only one more day before the Championships get under way. We can't wait for the competition to start. My campaign starts on Monday, and tomorrow I'll go down to the track to do a few sets over the first hurdle.

Thursday, 25 August

There are two days left until the opening of the 2011 World Athletics Championships here in Daegu, Korea.

I had a nice pre-race session in the stadium this morning at the same time I will race in the heats of the 400m hurdles on Monday. [Van Zyl starts his bid for World Championships gold on Monday at 4:30 local time].

I prefer the track at the stadium to the practice track at the village. The practice track can get a bit crowded and it is also very slippery when it rains.


The dining room at the village is catering for almost 2 000 athletes. It is quite small and does get a bit busy and noisy at times. The food is pretty good, but it can get a bit boring, although I did try a very interesting-looking cuttlefish salad today. I went out for supper with my South African teammates Oscar Pistorius and Lehann Fourie.

Tuesday, 23 August

Today blood samples were collected from all athletes taking part in the World Championships in Daegu. Not looking forward to having my blood taken, but hopefully the new blood testing programme will root out all the cheats.

This is the first time that nearly 2 000 athletes competing in a major event will be tested within the same period, under the same conditions. The blood tests will supplement the urine testing which will be conducted during the world champs.


Not too much going on at the moment, so we are enjoying a quiet time in the athletes' village. I'm in my room watching CSI. The last members of Team South Africa will join us later today from Shenzhen where they competed in the World Student Games.


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