Mulaudzi rises to the occasion

2009-09-26 13:45

AS he packed his luggage for his final meetings in Asia recently, 800m world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was raving about 2009 being his best season ever.

This is despite the back problem he has battled on his path to achieving his world number one status in Germany last month.
“After what happened in Berlin, this will go down as my best season ever because of that gold medal and my personal best,” he enthused.

Mulaudzi ran the fastest race of his career at the Rieti International Grand Prix meeting on September 6 when he clocked 1:42.86 to better his personal record set in 2003 by three-hundredths of a second.

He came third behind Kenyans David Rudisha and Kirwa Yego, who covered the distance in 1:42.01 and 1:42.67 respectively in the fastest 800m race of the year.

Since his win at the Berlin championships, Mulaudzi has criss-crossed between Grand Prix meetings in Europe and Asia and in the process earned thousands of dollars.

On top of the $60?000 (about R470?000) he pocketed in Berlin, he ­also earned $12?000 (about R89?000) after bagging a bronze medal at the IAAF World Athletics final in Thesalonika, Greece, two Sundays ago.

His European excursions started in Switzerland in the Golden League meet, just four days after Berlin.

In Zurich, he finished third and followed up with a fifth finish in the next race in Belgium on September 4.

Mulaudzi, who turned 29 three weeks ago, came second at the Golden Super Grand Prix in Shanghai, China, last weekend. He was due to wrap up his season in Korea yesterday.

Ironically, the year started very quietly for Mulaudzi who only attained his world championship qualifier at the Senior Championships in Stellenbosch in March.

Mulaudzi praised his wife Pondani, in particular, for helping him triumph under adverse conditions.

“Things went pear-shaped for me when I got sick in April. I went down with flu, which claimed three-and-half weeks of my training schedule. Then I sustained a hamstring injury. To add to the miseries I also had a problem with my back. It was discovered that it was not well aligned. I was so frustrated because the championships was just around the corner.”

The 2002 Commonwealth Games silver medallist disclosed that he went to meetings with a physiotherapist in tow.

Having participated in a series of World Athletics Tour meetings, ­Mulaudzi was quick to allay fears of fatigue.

“Under normal circumstances, I should be running in my 16th race or so by now,” said the man who narrowly beat top-ranked Kenyan runner Yego to net gold in 1:45.29 before a packed Olympics Stadium at the World Championships in Berlin on August 23.

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