While watching the Olympic Games in 1992 for the first time, a dream was born. At a tender age of seven, South Africa’s 400m hurdles champion, LJ van Zyl knew he wanted to participate in the Olympic Games. He started practising in his father’s yard in the Eastern Cape, and his career in athletics blossomed when he won the World Junior Championships in Jamaica, when he was in Grade 11.
“Today I am at my third Olympics Games in Rio waiting for my race on the 16th August! My first participation was in the 2008 Beijing games followed by London in 2012. In 2006, while still a student at the University of Pretoria, I suffered a groin injury and had no medical cover. Bestmed saved the day, and since then they have supported my career,” says LJ van Zyl, one of Bestmed’s brand ambassadors.
According to van Zyl, it’s been a long journey. “In 2008 I came fifth in 48:44 seconds, but by 2011 I was in better form and broke the SA record of 47:66s, which saw me jet off to London. 2012 was a tough year as I struggled to find form, but managed to qualify. In this type of sport, one needs to be light, powerful, yet explosive. I have corrected the mistakes of 2012, and feel that I am in much better shape and ready to give my best for my country at these Games,” he adds.
Clarence Munyai, another Bestmed’s brand ambassador will also be representing the country in Rio. Munyai, who is South Africa’s senior 200m athletics champion, will take part in his first race on the 16th August 2016. Clarence’s athletics journey started flourishing in 2014 while he was at Heron Bridge College. Since then the 18 year old athletics champion continues to excel.
In April 2016, Munyai won the SA Junior 200m Championships at a time of 20:36s in Germiston. He also went on to be crowned SA Senior 200m champion at a time of 20:72s in Cape Town and in June he was named African Senior Finalist in Durban. In July, Clarence was crowned World Junior Championships Finalist in Poland.
This humble young man, who owes his success to his determined spirit and coach, Hennie Kriel, speaks about his success and his role model, Usain Bolt. “I am just 18 years old and I am very happy with my achievements so far. I never expected to qualify for the Olympics so I am super excited and very proud of myself. I will be competing with the world’s best. Since childhood I have looked up to Usain Bolt and it would be a wonderful opportunity if I can race against him,” says Munyai.
Bestmed’s Marketing Manager, Sasja la Grange, congratulated the two athletes for qualifying to participate in this year’s Olympics. “We are proud to be associated with individuals like van Zyl and Munyai. They not only live our wellness pillars, but are an epitome of what we are about as an organisation. We wish them well in Rio,” concludes la Grange.