sa stars shine at grand prix

THE cream of South African athletes gave one of their best showings of the year when Khotso Mokoena and LJ van Zyl won their events at the Herculis Monaco IAAF Super Grand Prix on Tuesday night.

THE cream of South African athletes gave one of their best showings of the year when Khotso Mokoena and LJ van Zyl won their events at the Herculis Monaco IAAF Super Grand Prix on Tuesday night.

Johan Cronje also ran a very fast 1500m race and Ruben Ramolefi broke his own South African 3000m steeplechase record by about five seconds when finishing third in 8min:11,63sec in the last event of the evening.

Commonwealth champion LJ van Zyl realised one of the greatest dreams of his career when he dipped below 48 seconds for the first time in the 400m hurdles. He recorded a fast 47,94 and defeated his greatest rivals and former global winners Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement of the US, as well as new Jamaican sensation Isa Phillips. It was also the fastest time in the world this year.

Mokoena continued this year's winning streak with a fine distance of 8,28m, which he achieved twice during the evening. It was Mokoena's eighth victory of the international season while he finished second on two occasions and set a new Africa record of 8,50m.

Chris Tomlinson of Great Britain was second with a leap of 8,11m.

Van Zyl's victory was the major surprise of the outstanding meeting that attracted athletes from all over the world. It was one of the last major events before the World meeting, which starts in Berlin on August 15.

Johan Cronje, 27-year-old Free State University star and South African champion, also missed the 1500m national record by only seven-hundredths of a second, finishing ninth in 3:33,63, making him the third fastest South African of all time.

He also moved past Johan Fourie and the injured Juan van Deventer, who was an Olympic finalist last year, and shattered his personal best of 3:35,11 that he set six weeks ago in Thessalonica, Greece.

The race was won by Mehdi Baala of France with a brilliant 3:30,96. Given his current form Cronje stands a good chance of reaching the World Championship final in Berlin next month.

The South African record of 3:33,56 was set by Johan Landsman in Zurich in 1993.

World Student Games javelin champion Sunette Viljoen failed to repeat her fine Belgrade form, and had to settle for fourth place with a distance of 59,73m.

Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic won with a throw of 65,37m. - Sapa

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