yea) South Africa (400m hurdles)
Born 21 April 1981, Vanderbijlpark, Vaal Triangle, Gauteng Province, South Africa (100 km south of Johannesburg).
1.84m/74 kg. Lives in Potchefstroom (150 km west of Johannesburg).
Manager: Andy Norman. Coach: Dr. Ria van den Berg. Club: Mr Price North-West University Athletics Club (2004 SA Students’ Athletics Champions)
Attended school at Driehoek Hoërskool, Vanderbijlpark. Awarded B Comm degree in Business Administration and an honours degree in Marketing from Potchefstroom University, recently renamed North-West University.
Athletics career started in 1996 at school, where he also played rugby. The rugby coach forced all his players to take part in athletics as well. Ockert chose 200m and 300m hurdles, and hurdling quickly became his primary interest.
Made his debut at national championship level in 1997 when he was eliminated in the semi-final of the 300m hurdles. Reached first career highlight the next year by winning the national Under 18 300m hurdles title, setting a new national record of 37.10 sec.
Won bronze at 1999 SA Junior championships with a time of 51.44. A year later he took silver in 51.00 behind Ter de Villiers. Lowered his personal best to 50.53 sec for seventh place on the RSA year list. Selected for World Junior Championships in Chile and clocked 50.58 for 3rd behind Poland’s Plawgo and compatriot De Villiers.
Dipped under 50 seconds in 2001 but failed to qualify for SA Championship final and ended the year with a best of 49.40. In 2002 improved to 49.30, won SA Under-23 title (49.92) and finished 6th at national championships.
Three sub-49 clockings followed in 2003 with best of 48.61. Placed 4th at national championships (50.00), 2nd in B race at Zurich GL (48.88). Selected for World Championships team, but eliminated in Paris semi-final (49.32).
Came into his own in 2004, reeling off times of 48.47 in Potchefstroom, 48.02 in Pretoria, 48.23 to win the National Championships/Olympic trials in Durban (topping five other sub-50 hurdlers, including Llewellyn Herbert and Alwyn Myburgh). Recently finished 3rd in the African Championships in Brazzaville (49.58).
His early season PB 48.02—“it came as a major surprise when I saw the time on the board”—is still fourth fastest in 2004 and Cilliers expects to be at his very best in Athens.
Yearly progression 400m H/ 400m: 1999 - 51.44; 2000 - 50.53; 2001 - 49.40; 2002 - 49.30/ 47.20; 2003 - 48.61/ 46.41; 2004 - 48.02/ 45.80.
Prepared by Gert le Roux for the IAAF "Focus on Africans" project. Copyright IAAF 2004.