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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Pillay races to second as van Niekerk withdraws

Lythe Pillay finished second in his first official senior men’s race at the Puk McArthur Stadium in Potchefstroom last night. The 17 year old was due to take on his idol Wayde van Niekerk over 400m, but the world record holder is understood to have withdrawn from the meet leaving the schoolboy to face men in the 300m.

Pillay preparing to hit the track.

And he acquitted himself well as he passed a Zakhithi Nene on the line to grab second place behind Tsebo Matsotso who is a product of the Tannie Ans Botha Kosvies training group that gave us van Niekerk. The reigning U18 African 400m champion’s finishing time of 32.96 was less than a tenth of a second behind Mastotso’s winning time, underlining his return to form after a long injury layoff last year.

“Very few people know what’s happening off the track. For example when I was very sick last year, and I was off the track for 3 to 5 months there were only very people that were there for me,” The King Edwards VII Deputy Head Boy shared during a training session at the Boksburg stadium last week. “My mom was always there for me. She supported me through good days and the bad days,” he said.

Lythe's coach Lindi du Plessis says their main focus for 2021 is the U18 World Championships in Kenya in August.

That sub 33 second clocking at the University of the North West Track Meet last night saw the grade 11 pupil move to the summit of the 2020 U18 Men’s 300m ranking list. It also means that 2019’s injury woes are well and truly behind him as he looks ahead to a promising 2021. His coach Lindi du Plessis believes that Pillay was able to overcome last year’s hurdles because of his incredible mental strength. “He never gives up. He is so positive. I’ve never seen anything like it. When he does a session he blocks out all external factors and focuses on the task at end,” she said.

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