De Villiers performs well in Lausanne

Ter de Villiers, bronze medal winner at the South African Athletics Championships in Durban in April, made a strong claim for inclusion in the South African team to the 2005 World Championships when he defeated his main rival for the third spot in the 400m hurdles, Ockert Cilliers, at the International Association of Athletics Federations Super Grand Prix meeting in Lausanne on Tuesday night.

In the process, he also recorded a personal best and fast time of 48,46 seconds that was faster than the winning time of James Carter in the main race.

The 22-year old De Villiers—he turns 23 next week—ran the race of his life in beating Cilliers, who crossed the finish in fourth place and a disappointing 49,56 seconds. The race was won by Panamanian Bayano Kamani, who clocked 48,36 seconds, the fastest of the evening.

De Villiers improved on his previous best by 0,24 seconds to equal the fifth-best time to date by a South African athlete.

The United States’s James Carter was an easy winner (48,47 seconds) of the main race, which featured two more South African athletes, LJ van Zyl and Llewellyn Herbert. Van Zyl did well to finish second in 48,82 seconds, with South African record-holder Herbert once again breaking 49 seconds in fourth place. His time in Lausanne was 48,96 seconds, only 0,05 seconds slower than his performance in Paris on Friday night.

Van Zyl and Herbert had already sealed their places in the World Championships team in April and after the meeting in Lausanne, De Villiers looks almost assured of his spot as third representative in the 400 hurdles.

He is a tough competitor when the pressure is really on and he proved it in Lausanne as he did in 2000, when he won the silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Chile. On that occasion, Cilliers had to settle for the bronze medal. Marek Plawgo of Poland, who was the winner in that event, was also in the race in Lausanne, but he fell halfway.

South Africa’s two discus throwers, Frantz Kruger and Hannes Hopley, were outclassed by a very strong field and had to settle for seventh and ninth positions.

Kruger, who threw 65,53m two nights ago in Finland to qualify for Helsinki, could only manage 61,22m in Lausanne, while Hopley had to be satisfied with a throw of 60,27m. Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna, of Lithuania, won the event with 70,53m and the longest throw of the year.—Sapa

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