SA’s world champions in the spotlight this weekend

2010-07-02 00:00

IT’S all about South Africa’s world championship medallists this weekend, commencing with Caster Semenya, who will finally be given an outcome on her right to return to athletics competition in the eyes of the IAAF.

The decision, which the international federation have “promised” before the end of June, has twice been postponed this week and is due to be announced today. To say this has been a drawn-out affair is a euphemism.

It began even before the then 18-year-old Semenya ran rings around the opposition in the African Junior Championships in Mauritius in 2009, reached a head following her decimation of the 800 metres field at last year’s World Championships in Berlin and has since been close to becoming the world’s most followed soap opera for the past 10 months.

Indeed, even the most talented of writers could not have come up with the same mix of sex, illogical action, politics, and intrigue that has drawn on for 10 months and hopefully will be dragged to a conclusion today in time for the World 800 metres champion to beat the July 11 qualification date for selection to the Commonwealth Games.

In these days , when the governments of France and Nigeria are providing clear indication of just how much sport and politics are truly separated, it is unwise to predict an outcome, but in technical terms and under defined rules Semenya should be back blazing her way around the track. If the IAAF keep to this latest deadline, number five by my count, the way forward should be clear this weekend.

The other South African medallists from Berlin will be in action in Madrid today in the 10th round of the World Challenge.

World indoor and outdoor silver medallist Khotso Mokoena will be looking to improve on his current season’s best of 8,15 metres which he reached in Hania on 31 May.

If he can get close to his Africa record of 8,50 metres, he should see off the competition, which is being headed by Australian Chris Noffke.

Twenty-two-year-old Noffke leapt out to 8,33 metres in the National Championships in Perth, which gave him a second-place ranking of the year behind Fabrice Lapierre, the current world indoor champion.

Mokoena has matured to become a man for the big occasion, and a good performance in the Spanish city will increase his confidence for the African Championships in Nairobi at the end of the month.

South Africa’s second world 800 metres champion, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, will also be in action. He won there in 2008 and 2009 will looking to complete a hat-trick of wins in the Madrid event.

Although a season’s best, his 1:43,78 in the Doha Diamond league only delivered a fourth place, whereas his slower times in Daegu (1:45,60) and New York (1:44,38) saw the 29-year-old back on the top of the podium.

Mulaudzi’s path to the hat-trick will need to take into account a triumvirate of Kenyans headed by Richard Kiplagat (1:44,80), Reuben Bett (SB of 1:45,19), and Jackson Kivuna (1:45,75), who placed third in the Kenyan championships last Saturday in Nairobi. Additional challenges can be expected from the local Spanish athletes, including reigning European indoor silver medallist Luis Alberto Marco.


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