EVENT: 400M HURDLES
Place of birth: Pretoria
DOB: 22 May 2000
Coach: Maritza Coetzee
400 m: 54.97
400 m Hurdles: 55.05 (SA junior record)
400 m: 54.97 sec, Cape Town, April’17
400 m Hurdles: 57.94 sec, Cape Town, April’17
400 m Hurdles: 1st, 55.34 sec, World U-20 Championships, Tampere, 2018
400 m Hurdles: 1st, 58.23 sec, World U-18 Championships, Nairobi, 2017
Mixed 4x400 m: 3rd, 3:24.45 sec, World U-18 Championships, Nairobi, 2017
As a youth athlete, Zeney van der Walt was already displaying the gutsy determination required to shine at international level.
In the 400m hurdles final at the 2017 World U-18 Championships, Van der Walt was well off the pace of Jamaican leader Sanique Walker at the top of the home straight, but she fought with every stride to chase her down, catching her on the line to win gold by 0.04.
She also played a key role in the mixed 4x400m relay final at the global championships, with the SA team securing the bronze medal.
At the national youth championships in Cape Town earlier in the year, Van der Walt had shown her versatility by setting personal bests to win titles in the flat 400m sprint and the one-lap hurdles, and her time of 57.94 over the barriers was just 0.03 outside the SA youth record.
A pupil at Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria, Van der Walt went on to earn the bronze medal at the SA Senior Championships in Potchefstroom, at the age of 16, establishing her place as one of the most promising hurdlers in the country.
Making steady progress, she clinched the silver medal in a memorable battle with Wenda Nel at the 2018 SA Senior Championships in Pretoria, finishing just 0.04 behind her accomplished compatriot and setting a national junior record of 55.05, which eclipsed the 35-year-old age group mark of 55.74 held by Myrtle Bothma.
Later in the year, Van der Walt went on to seal a rare double, adding the global junior title to her youth crown when she won gold in 55.34 at the World U-20 Championships in Tampere, crossing the line well clear of her nearest opponent with a convincing performance in the final.