Sokwakhana Zazini (pictured).
JOHANNESBURG – Sokwakhana Zazini, 17, (TuksSport High School) proved he is one for the big moment on Friday as he set a new world youth record in the 400m hurdles.
Zazini won in a time of 48.84s during the Gauteng North Championships at the University of Pretoria. His time is 0.17 faster than the time ran by William Wynne (USA) in 2007. The American clocked 49.01.
What made this performance remarkable is that even before Zazini had settled down in his starting blocks it was predicted that the record was going to go. The reason for this was his performance last week at the Gauteng Schools Championship in Germiston. He won in 49.53 which was, at the time, the second fastest-ever by a youth athlete (under-18).
The youngster was never going to allow the expectations to get to him. The moment the starters’ gun was fired he set out to challenge the stopwatch with the greatest of confidence.
Former Commonwealth Champion, Cornel Fredericks, who won the men’s 400-hurdles in a time of 49.27 was impressed.
“Sokwakhana has what it takes to become the next real deal in the 400m-hurdles but it is important that from now on he needs to be managed properly,” said Fredericks.
“I ran against William Wynne when he set the record of 49.01s at the world youth championships. It was predicted that he was going to be a real champion. It never happened. He was constantly injured and his career just fizzled out without him fulfilling his potential.
“My advice to Sokwakhana is to remember that any athlete is only as good as his last race. It would be unfair to him if there is too big a fuss made about his achievement. He should always remain hungry to run a faster time.”
According to Hennie Kriel who coaches the Tuks-athlete, what makes Zazini such an exciting prospect is exactly his hunger to succeed.
“I have no doubt that he can be the best especially since he is a quick learner. We are still working at his hurdling technique to get it to be more efficient,” said Kriel.
Zazini also excels in the 400 metres. Last year his performance at the South African Junior and Youth Championships in Germiston was remarkable. Within in an hour he won the 400 metres in 47.23 s and finished second in the 400-hurdles final, running 50.85.
If Kriel should have it his way, Zazini would continue doing the 400-hurdles/400m combination for quite a few more years.