Former world champs chase Olympic times

2012-04-19 11:43

Fresh from being crowned South African champions in 800m, Caster Semenya and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi are set to be star attractions at the final leg of the Yellow Pages Series in Pretoria tomorrow.

The two former world champs will be out to achieve their Olympic A-standard qualifying times to be eligible for selection for the athletics squad in Team SA to London. The London Olympic Games takes of on July 27 and end on August 12.

“I was happy to win the SA champs in just my only second race but there was not enough pace to push me to the qualifying time,” said Mulaudzi who won the race in 1:45.78, which was agonisingly short of the mandatory entry time for the men’s qualifiers.

He said he was working on short speed drills to be up to the task to dip under the required 1:45.60 qualifying time.

Semenya also indicated that she was ready to break the two-minute barrier at her home turf at the Tuks Athletics Stadium in Pretoria tomorrow evening.

She won the two-lap national title in a slower 2:02.66 when “anything under one minute” was the set target between her and coach Maria Mutola.

“The intention is still to run under a minute to make the qualifying time,” she said.

Unlike Mulaudzi, who needs to make two qualifying marks as per the criteria set by Sascoc, Semenya has already attained her first qualification.

The full criterion requires athletes to qualify at two events in which one is in a local event while the other must be attained at any meeting that conforms to the international status.

Semenya achieved her first qualifier during the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, last year when she won silver in 1:56.35, which is under the 1:59.90 A-standard time.

Meanwhile, other familiar names to lookout for are rivals Patience Ntshingila and Janice Josephs in the long jump.

Ntshingila unseated Josephs in the long jump as she completed a rare double with a triple jump title at the Yellow Pages SA Senior Championships in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

Veteran discus thrower Elizna Naude is also among those who are still chasing qualifying times for the Olympics.

All-conquering sprinter Simon Magakwe has taken a break but his club teammate Lebogang Moeng will be the one to watch in the 100m and 200m finals.

The first event will start at 5pm.

» Follow me on twitter @DanieMothowagae and read City Press on Sunday for more on athletics

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