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Mokoena’s African record

Mark Etheridge

Beijing silver medallist Khotso Mokoena soared to a new African long jump record of 8.50 metres at Saturday’s 28th Madrid track and field meeting in Spain.

And he had great back-up from middle distance runners Johan Cronje and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi who won the 1,500 and 800m events respectively.

Desite having to settle for second Mokoena had a briliant series of six jumps.

Australian, Fabrice Lapierre won the event in 8.57m but  Mokoena had the extra satisfaction of beating Olympic champion, Irving Saladino, of Panama and also breaking
the 12-year-old African record of 8.46m set by Cheikh Tidane Toure of Senegal .

“I am simply ecstatic,” Mokoena’s coach, Elna de Beer, told leading SA track and field statistician Gert le Roux.┬á “I think 8.60m is now within his reach but that is not the main aim.

“To peak in Berlin at the World Champs is priority number one. After his three recent successive wins with 8.33m, there was no doubt in my mind that he was building to something special.”

She will be joining him within a few weeks time after which they will do the final preparations for Germany.

Mokoena opened with 8.24, then twice equalled the African record of 8.46 before closing with three jumps of 8.47 (wind-assisted), 8.50 (jumped with a legal 1.3m/sec wind-reading) and 8.43m.

Also on the evening he smashed his national record of 8.39m, which he had established in Finland in 2006, and at the same time moved from fifth to fourth on the 2009 world list.

Meanwhile on the track Cronje continued to impress. He recently qualified for World Championships with a personal best of  3 min 35.11 sec in Greece and Saturday defeated a strong field with a time of 3:37.33 sec after surging to the front in the final stages..

He had just returned to Europe after having to come back to SA with visa problems.

A slightly off-key Mulaudzi, who has had his build-up set back with flu, had some stiff competition but still won his 800m race in 1min 45.81sec..