Van Zyl ready to shine in London
One-lap hurdler LJ van Zyl is confident he has overcome a poor build-up to the London Olympics, which was disrupted by injury, and will be ready to produce his best form at the Games.
Van Zyl has recovered from a knee injury that forced him to withdraw midway through the African Athletics Championships in Benin last month.
While he is ranked only 38th in the world this year, after setting a season's best of 49.42 seconds in Pretoria in April, he believed he could reproduce the form that saw him rise to the top of the 2011 global rankings and clinch bronze at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
"Times wise I'm not where I want to be," Van Zyl said on Thursday.
"I hoped to be around 48 [seconds], but until now I've had a few challenges.
"I had to miss the African Championships final due to the knee, but that's behind me.
"I'm targetting a season's best in the heats, and I'll take it round by round."
Fellow South African 400m hurdler Cornel Fredericks, who was fifth at last year's global championships, has dipped under 49 seconds this season, and Van Zyl hoped they could both reach the final in London.
"The initial goal is to get into the final and take things from there," he said.
"Last year we got third and fifth place [at the world championships], and if we can both get into the final we improve the medal chances."
South Africa's athletics squad is based at St Mary's University in Twickenham, away from the hype and distractions of the village.
"It's much more relaxed [at St Mary's] which allows us to get on with our preparations," Van Zyl said.
"There are just too many distractions and too much food on offer at the village. It can work against you."
Having bagged the silver medal in Daegu last season, Van Zyl believed the country's 4x400m relay team could step on the podium again.
They had put in more work as a team ahead of the London Games, he said, though they had yet to train with double amputee Oscar Pistorius, as they were waiting for him to arrive in England.
"We never really trained as a squad before and we got a medal [in Daegu], so think what we can do this time round," Van Zyl said.
"If you look at the video [of the final] you can see we weren't perfect.
"We know what we have to do to improve. Oscar can't arrive here too soon so that we can all be in training."