Khotso leaps into Diamond League

2014-04-27 15:00

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Long jumpers Khotso Mokoena and Zarck Visser will mark South Africa’s first foray into the ­international one-day meeting athletics ­circuit in the coming days.

The pair – along with 1?500m runner Johan Cronje and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen – make up a small team of South African track and field athletes who will compete in the opening leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, on May 9.

The group will not only be after the lucrative prizes that come with winning their respective events in the 14-meeting series, but will also be aiming to meet the selection criteria for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, later this year.

Following the disappointment of relinquishing his national long jump title to training ­partner Visser over the last two seasons, ­Mokoena made a grand return to the podium with a triple jump crown this year.

The 29-year-old dethroned long-time champ Tumelo Thagane with a jump of 16.68m at the SA Senior Track and Field Championships three weeks ago. Mokoena last competed in the triple jump in 2006 and is now chasing gold in the two disciplines.

“I’ll try and qualify for [both],” he said in reference to the Commonwealth Games, the African Championships and the IAAF Intercontinental Cup. The latter events will be held in Marrakech, Morocco.

But he will only compete in the long jump in Doha. “Coming back like this is good. It is all about the progress I made since I teamed up with Zarck after training alone for years.”

Mokoena is now in his sixth month with the group trained by Emmarie Fouché.

Visser and Mokoena finished second and third, respectively, in the Diamond League rankings last season. Visser’s SA Championships winning distance of 8.31m is currently the world’s leading jump this year.

Doha holds happy memories for Cronje – it is where he set the new South African 1?500m record of 3:33.46 last year.

The 2013 IAAF World Championships bronze medallist will continue his newly established rivalry with Kenyans Silas Kiplagat and Asbel ­Kiprop, who were part of the strong 1?500m final field at the global meeting in Moscow, Russia, in August last year.

In the women’s field events, nine-time South African javelin champion Viljoen – with a season best of 64.77m – will size up current world leader and Moscow runner-up ­Kimberley Mickle of Australia.

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