Another disappointing day for SA

2008-08-20 00:00

In a less-than-convincing display of tactics in the 800 metre heats at Beijing’s Bird Nest Stadium last night, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi did little to substantiate South Africa’s hopes that he can defend his Athens silver medal.

The University of Johannesburg athlete went off hard from the gun to settle in second on the shoulder to Britain’s Michael Rimmer, who pulled the field through the first 400 in 59,9.

Coming out of the penultimate bend, Poland’s Pawel Czapiewski took the field into the final 200 m in a move that Mulaudzi did well to cover.

The South African, however, did not display his normal crispness of acceleration in taking the home straight lead, and with the line beckoning made the classic tactical error of cutting his last two strides, letting Rimmer through on the inside and giving the fast-closing Pole an overly generous sniff of the line that almost cost his qualifying place.

The Briton was clocked at 1:47,61, with Mulaudzi on 1:47,64 and the Pole only 0,02 seconds out of the frame.

SA sprinters’ woes

Said a tired-looking Mulaudzi, “I thought I had finished the race. I kicked and passed the guy. For me the race was done. I didn’t know there was someone coming.

“I started with flu symptoms yesterday, my chest is burning; my whole body at the back, and my joints are aching, so I am just praying tomorrow I wake feeling better.

“Maybe it’s a problem with the aircon where we are staying. Sometimes it’s too hot inside and then we go to the dining room and it is freezing.”

It is not a performance that prompted confidence, but Mulaudzi, lives to fight another day, while Czapiewski failed to get one of the eight fastest finisher positions in tonight’s semi-finals.

Samson Ngoepe lined up with a heavily bandaged quad for the fifth heat, but never looked capable of anything remotely like the acceleration required in an 800 m.

“I haven’t run for two weeks due to the muscle I tore in the training camp two weeks ago doing 200 m sprints. I’m unhappy with my time, but when I see times in some of the events, perhaps I can get through,” said Ngoepe who also said he felt ill.

Wilfred Bungei and Athens gold-medallist Yurly Borzakivskiy ran the fastest two times of the night in the first heat, pulling Nadjim Manseur through as the first of the fastest finishers.

bmx: nhlapo’s chances

Cyclist Sifiso Nhlapo progressed through to today’s quarter-finals on the first day of the BMX competition.

The world ninth-ranked rider has the air of confidence and the potential to secure South Africa’s second medal of the Games by today.

“I finished second in Europe and third in the Worlds, so there are no new faces here. I knew what I had to do. These are 32 of the world’s finest but one mistake and you’re out.”


Canoeist Shaun Rubenstein was knocked out of his 1 000 m single kayak semi-final when he faded to fourth after leading the majority of the racers from a very fast start. Rubenstein was drawn in a loaded final that included two world champions, the Olympic gold and silver medallists, and the junior World Champion.

“I rate myself as one of them. I came here to make a final and so I went out there to make it happen. It’s disappointing now, but I can hold my head high I just came short. I’ve got the speed and I’ve got guts, I’ve just got to put it all together.”

Rubenstein was first out of the blocks with his lane 2 draw allowing him to get into his own rhythm and lead for the first 250 metres, which he covered in 50,69 seconds.

World junior champion, Australian Ken Wallace, had the edge into halfway, but Rubenstein fought back and looked to have it in the bag until the last 100 metres where he faded to finish fourth, the first non-qualifying position.

Wallace won the race in 3:33,255, with New Zealand’s Ben Fouhy and Swede Markus Oscarsson overhauling Rubenstein for second and third.

“My plan was to go to the front and set a very fast speed — it’s not easy to keep these guys at bay. With 150 to go, I thought I had it and then a monkey jumped on my back. If you lose concentration for one second, you lose a stroke, and the guys get half a length on you which you never get back.”

The Johannesburg-based canoeist competes in the 500 m semi-final today: “I’ve shown I’ve got speed so hopefully tomorrow will go well.”

Calvin Mokoto may not be in contention in his races, but he is certainly gaining experience with each outing as he finished eighth out of nine boats in his single canoe 1 000 m race.

Marathoners gear up

Marathoners Norman Dlomo and Hendrick Ramaala arrived in the Athlete’s Village yesterday hoping to recover sufficiently for Sunday’s Marathon race.

Ramaala has been training in Albuquerque in U.S. for the past weeks in the hope of replicating conditions in Beijing

He came off 24 hours of travelling, while Dlomo arrived in from his Mpumalanga training base.

Sunday’s weather is predicted to start with a clear morning becoming cloudy later, which should result in relatively low humidity for the race which starts at 07.30 from Tiananmen Square.

Norrie Williamson’s air flights sponsored by Allday EnerGIFoods – Constant Carbs are Key.

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