Maxwell only KZN athlete in Berlin

2009-05-10 00:00

MARATHON star Tanith Maxwell is the sole KwaZulu-Natal representative in South Africa’s 31-athlete provisional squad for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin from August 15 to 23.

Although Maxwell is the sole woman marathoner in the SA squad, five runners have been named in the men’s team with Norman Dlomo the fastest and most experienced.

“I’m really excited about Berlin,” Maxwell said. “It is the first time that I have been able to focus entirely on the championships and I’m sure this will show in the results”

Maxwell will be participating in her second World Championships. The previous outing to Osaka in 2007 was held in hot and humid conditions, but with the benefit of cooler German conditions and ASA’s preparation camps, faster times can be expected.

“The financial support and focus of the ASA camps is a great benefit and I feel I could go very close to two hours, 30 minutes, if conditions are good,” said Maxwell, South Africa’s sixth-fastest marathoner following her 2:36:35 in last year’s Warsaw marathon.

Athletics South Africa (ASA) president Molatelo Malehopo said on Thursday there are still places up for grabs in the national team.

The squad of 31 left on Thursday for two training camps in Germany ahead of the global showpiece. They will spend two weeks in Potsdam, followed by another fortnight in Nieu Brandenburg before they move into the athletes village in Berlin on August 12.

Two of the athletes from the original team of 33 have withdrawn. Beijing Olympic 1 500m finalist Jean van Deventer is recovering from injury and versatile sprinter Tsholofelo Thipe, who qualified in the 400m sprint, is ill.

“We are leaving a window open for other athletes to qualify before the IAAF entry deadline on August 3,” Malehopo said on Thursday. “If they qualify before then, they will be included in the team.”

The provisional team of 31 will be desperate to end the country’s dry run at the World Championships.

South Africa won the last of their 10 medals in Paris in 2003 when they tied seventh with Kenya, bagging an impressive four medals — two gold, one silver and one bronze.

And this year’s squad stands a realistic chance of adding to the nation’s tally.

Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena, ranked third in the world, is fresh off breaking his own South African record in the long jump — which now stands at 8,50 metres — and will be one of the favourites in his event.

Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, who won bronze in Paris six years ago, is ranked only 15th in the world this year in the men’s 800m, with a best time of 1:44,81, but his experience and consistency should see him in the running for another medal.

LJ van Zyl finished second in the 400m hurdles in Athens on Monday night in 48,18 seconds, jumping to fifth in the world rankings and showing impressive form going into the World Championships.

And on the women’s side, Sunette Viljoen travels to Germany carrying a real hope of returning with a medal as the fourth best javelin thrower in the world this year following her 65,46m African record in the qualifying rounds at the World University Games in Belgrade last week.

She went on to win the final.

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion has two African Championships medals to her credit and is in the best form of her career.

PROVISIONAL SQUAD

Men: Simon Magakwe, 100m and 4x100m (ACNW); Tshegofatsoe Mehoe, 200m and 4x100m (ANWN); Thuso Mpuang, 200m (AFS); Kagisho Kumbane, 4X100m (AFS); Hannes Dreyer, 4X100m (AGN); Wilhelm van der Vyfer, 4X100m (BOLA); Pieter Smith, 400m and 4x400m); LJ van Zyl, 400mH (AGN); Ofentse Mogawana, 4X400m (AGN); Sibusiso Sishi, 4X400m (CGA); Jacob Ramokoka, 4X400m (ANWN); Paul Gorries, 4X400m (EPA); Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, 800m (CGA); Johan Cronje, 1 500m (AFS); Ruben Ramolefi, 3000m Sc (CGA); Khotso Mokoena, Long Jump (AGN); Peter van der Westhuizen, 1500m (CGA), Willem Coertzen, Decathlon (ACNW); Chris Harmse, Hammer (AFS), Robert Oosthuizen, Javelin (BOLA); Norman Dlomo, Marathon (AVT); Coolboy Ngamole, Marathon (CGA); Enos Matalane, Marathon (AGN); Johannes Kekana, Marathon (CGA); Lusapho April, Marathon (BORA).

Women: Isabel le Roux, 200m (AGN); Caster Semenya, 800m (AGN); Janice Josephs, Long Jump (BOLA); Sunette Viljoen, Javelin (ACNW); Elizna Naude, Discus (AFS); Tanith Maxwell, Marathon (KZNA).

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