African champions Van Zyl and Viljoen in Benin to defend crowns

South African Javelin record holder Sunette Viljoen

Reigning African 400m hurdles and Javelin champions, LJ van Zyl and Sunette Viljoen will arrive in Benin tommorow for the 18th Africa Senior Athletics Championships looking for their fourth and third consecutive titles respectively at the Africa showpiece.

South African Van Zyl, who has a season's best time of 49.42 set on April 5, will have to contend with Nigeria's Amaechi Morton - the fastest African athlete this season with a 48.79 set in Des Moines, US on June 8 and currently ranked sixth in the world.

Mozambican athlete Kurt Couto (49.02 set in Praha on June 11) and Senegalese Mamadou Kasse Hanne (49.04 recorded in Angers, France on June 17) also have faster times than Van Zyl this season.

“Achieving this will be very special as no other athlete has ever done it. It won’t be easy, but I am going to try my best,” said Van Zyl who won in 2006 (Bambous, Mauritius), 2008 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and 2010 (Nairobi, Kenya).

“I haven’t run a good time yet this year and the competition in Africa will be strong,” He added.

African record-holder Sunette Viljoen is also seeking a third successive women's Javelin title. After struggling with a minor back injury, the 29 year-old won the SA Championships in Port Elizabeth with an Olympic Qualifying throw of 61.15m on April 13.

She then improved her personal best at the Diamond League in Rome with a massive 69.35m attempt, improving her previous SA and Africa record of 68.38m in the process.

“I have two goals for the Africa Championships. A good solid performance and the title,” said Viljoen who won the title in 2010 with a 63.33m attempt.

The CAA Africa Senior Championships will take place in Porto Novo, Benin, from June 27 to July 1, 2012.

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