Semenya, Mokoena net Olympic qualifying times

2012-04-21 07:42

It was mission accomplished for Caster Semenya and Khotso Mokoena at the third leg of the Yellow Pages when the two attained the much-needed Olympic Games A-standard qualifying marks last night.

Semenya not only dipped under the set 1:59.90 but made history as well when her finishing time of 1:59.58 become the first sub two minutes ever achieved on these shores in more than two decades.

Zelda Pretorius ran 1:58.85, also in Pretoria, in April 21 years ago.

Said Semenya afterwards: “I feel very special as I was still a kid when I came close to running a sub two minutes in 2009. The plan was to run under two minutes here and maybe I will do 1:56 or 1:57 in Europe... but we (with coach Maria Mutola) are patient.”

The Tuks Athletics runner achieved her feat thanks to a pacemaker from Namibia – Tjipekapora Herunga – who ignited a fast race that saw Semenya splitting at 57 seconds at the bell.

Mokoena meanwhile made his first jump count with an 8.29m leap under ideal conditions.

His jump was just 9cm over the A-standard but he needs to make another qualifying mark in an international event as per the stringent Sascoc Olympic Team selection criterion.

“We knew what we came here for and everything just went according to plan,” said the man who lost his national title just five days prior to this meeting.

While it was a night to remember for Semenya and Mokoena, it was a disappointing outing for 2009 world 800m champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi.

The Central Gauteng Athletics runner won his race in 1:46.12, which was again outside the 1:45.60 qualifying time. He won the SA title but he was also short of the required time.

“The pressure of qualifying was just too much for me coming here but I am not really worried as I have a few races to run in Europe,” he said.

Mulaudzi said he his next race will be in Shanghai, China, in the IAAF Diamond League.

The next domestic track and field competition, the Yellow Pages SA Open Championships, will take place in Pretoria on May 4-5.

» Follow me on Twitter @DanieMothowagae

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