South Africa: Cornel Fredericks targets top 3 in Marrakech


South Africa’s will be looking to add another major medal to his already impressive 2014 collection when he lines up at the Continental Cup in Marrakech, Morocco, next weekend.

The South African will draw the curtain on a successful international season on the track after claiming gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before being crowned continental champion at the African Championships, also in Marrakech.

“This season I thought I could be among the top three in the world at the Continental Cup, so that is my goal,” said the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre-sponsored athlete on Monday.

“It’s nice being back home. The European season has been a long one for me as I’ve been in Europe since June 5,” Fredericks said.

In the Diamond League meeting in Zurich on Thursday night, Fredericks posted a season’s best 48.25 seconds for his first victory in the top-flight global league.

Global debut

Cornel Fredericks first burst onto the international scene at the 2008 IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland, finishing in fourth place before making his debut at the senior World Championships in Daegu in 2011, where he finished in fifth place.

Since then, Fredericks had experienced a host of setbacks, including the loss of his coach Bruce Longden, who died a month before the 2012 London Olympics. The athlete then tore a hamstring in his 400m hurdles heat at the Games.

At the end of 2012, Fredericks joined up with accomplished hurdles coach Hennie Kotze, who also coaches 400m hurdles record holder .

The four-time national champion went on to experience a rather indifferent 2013, where he was knocked out of the semifinals of the World Championships in Moscow.

Kotze made a few adjustments to the 24-year-old’s training programme and it paid rich dividends this year.

“In the off-season, we identified a few key areas which we needed to work on and we stuck to that,” Fredericks said.

“This year, I just went out fearlessly competing against the best guys in the world. I told myself that for me to be able to compete against the best, I have to go out there and show no fear.”

Looking ahead, Fredericks has greater accolades in his sights and is looking to add a world championship medal to his cabinet.

There is a lot of expectation on me now, especially with the World Championships in Beijing next year, but I am up for the challenge.

I am focused and hungry. I think I am capable of reaching more heights in the future.

I will work hard in the off-season and my goal for next season is to run under 48 seconds. I want to bring a medal home for South Africa at the World Championships.

Kotze said Fredericks’s consistency throughout the season – where he dipped below 49 seconds on a number of occasions – demonstrated the athlete had touched only the surface of his potential.

“There have been many good races he ran this season where he still made mistakes but which we can improve on,” Kotze said.

“The strength and condition training is something new he started with this year, and it had done wonders for him.

“If he can get a little bit stronger next year, he can definitely run below 48 seconds.”

Was training partner Van Zyl’s national record of 47.66 seconds from 2011 within reach for Fredericks?

“The South African record is quite a tough one. At the moment I don’t have any records in my sights, I am just focused on my training,” Fredericks said.

“I don’t think you can plan for any records but I am just going to train hard and hopefully I can come close to or even break it.”