Can Khotso stretch to regain his form?

2013-09-22 14:00

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Time will tell if the Crocodile still has the same bite that saw him breaking records.

For three years, Khotso Mokoena has not won a medal on the big stages.

Apart from that, he’s also turned out to be a perennial silver medallist across indoor and outdoor championships.

Three major track-and-field championships – two world champs and the Olympic Games – have passed since the 28-year-old long jumper last won a medal, a silver at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Qatar.

The past season was his worst since he broke on to the senior international scene in 2005.

He suffered a first-round exit at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and he finished seventh at this year’s meeting in Moscow, Russia.

He was placed eighth at the London Olympics last year.

Mokoena’s last outdoor event success was as a runner-up at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

He picked up a bronze at the IAAF World Athletics Final in the same year.

Mokoena’s barren spell is further compounded by the fact that he relinquished the long jump national title to late bloomer Zarck Visser (24) in 2012 and again this year.

Mokoena, nicknamed “Crocodile”, finished as runner-up on both occasions at the national championships.

Visser also finished ahead of Mokoena in the recently concluded Diamond League.

Mokoena was placed third, behind the Central Gauteng Athletics jumper Visser on the final table of the money-spinning track-and-field series.

A change of coaches in quick succession has also impacted negatively on his progress, which saw him competing at the 2011 world championships without a coach.

Does Mokoena’s fluctuating performance graph suggest he is on a downslide?

Regarding this, his former national team-mate Mbulaeni Mulaudzi said: “At his age he can still offer something. Khotso has a positive mindset and his setback could be attributed to being unlucky because sometimes the desired jumps just don’t come at the championships.”

The 2008 Olympic silver medallist also received backing from veteran marathon runner Hendrick Ramaala.

“Khotso is still a big name in the business. We can’t say he is going down. He’ll still make it to the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow, Scotland, next year) and the Rio Olympics

(in 2016).”

Time will tell if Mokoena can still summon the kind of leap that saw him breaking the domestic and African record (8.50m in 2009).

Visser and Luvo Manyonga are also on his heels and are steadily edging him out as long jump’s emerging stars.

Manyonga has just come out of an 18-month drug ban.

What he said

Mokoena promised to give City Press an interview, but he did not return calls and messages after the many attempts to get hold of him.

In our last contact, he said via a WhatsApp message: “There is a lot of time on my hands to improve. I will do better than this season, just like I did better than last year.”

SA athletics: Rising and fading stars

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