Athletics

SA trio eye Stokholm success

Cornel Fredericks (Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA)
Cornel Fredericks (Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA)

Stockholm - Three of South Africa's continental champions will compete at the 11th leg of the Diamond League track and field series in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday night.

Long jumper Zarck Visser, who won gold at the African Championships in Marrakech last week after grabbing the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, will turn out as one of the favourites at the top-flight league meeting in the Swedish capital.

He will be joined by teammate Khotso Mokoena, the African and Commonwealth triple jump gold medallist, who secured silver behind Visser in the long jump discipline in Marrakech.

Cornel Fredericks, who will turn out in the men's 400m hurdles race, is the only other South African competing in Stockholm.

In the latter stages of a long season, Visser admitted he had experienced some fatigue after the continental spectacle, but he confirmed he was ready to hit his straps once again.

"Form doesn't just disappear, and I'm still feeling okay," he said on Wednesday.

"I feel I can carry on, and I've got no injuries or anything, so I can still compete."

With four events remaining in his 2014 schedule, Visser hoped to be competitive in each outing, rather than aiming for big leaps.

"It's late in the season and all I can do is my best.

"Distance-wise I expect something okay, over 8m at least (in Stockholm), but that's not my worry.

"My thing has always been to fight, and I'm still going to fight in every competition I have left this year."

Visser, who holds a season's best of 8.31m, is the third best jumper this year in the 10-man field, behind former Asian champion Li Jinzhe of China and US champion Jeff Henderson.

Mokoena, who has leaped 8.02m this season after shifting his focus back to the triple jump, is seventh best in the line-up in the 2014 campaign.

The Commonwealth and African champion, Fredericks is third fastest in the field this year (48.42 seconds) behind Javier Culson of Puerto Rico and American Michael Tinsley, while the line-up also includes world champion Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago and two-time Olympic gold medallist Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic.

Lying third in the standings with four points, Fredericks will be eager to narrow the gap on Culson and Tinsley, who are joint first with 13 points in the overall Diamond League standings in their event.

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