By Mark Etheridge
Injuries are making a big dent in South African’s Commonwealth Games medal hunt.
On Tuesday morning, three of our medal contenders seemed to either miss the New Delhi games or at best, not be in anything like the shape they should be on the eve of the major multi-sport event.
Both our world 800-metre champions have back-related problems. Mubulaeni Mulaudzi saw a doctor yesterday and a final decision is expected today. Caster Semenya, also world champion in Berlin last year, is also struggling and was due to see a physiotherapist after suffering more pain at a cross-country meeting in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
And last year’s world long jump silver medallist Khotso Mokoena is also extremely doubtful with a leg injury. Athletics South Africa’s Hezekiel Sepeng, a former Olympic silver medallist, said on Monday that it was “not looking good at all” that Mokoena would join Team SA in Delhi.
Back to Mulaudzi though and his agent, Peet van Zyl, said it was almost a given that Mulaudzi would miss the Games.
“It’s the same injury that saw him miss the 800m final at African championships and also all those Diamond League meetings,” said Van Zyl on Tuesday morning. “It starts in his lower back and then goes into the hamstring. He saw a SASCOC affiliated doctor at Wits on Monday who advised him to go for an MR scan today when a final decision will be made.
“But with him not having trained for three weeks the outlook does not look good at all.”
South Africa selected just 11 athletes to compete at the games and all three of above-mentioned athletes were virtual medal-bankers of some sort for South Africa. Despite a mixture of results since her return to competition in July this year, Semenya is still the highest ranked women’s 800m taking part at the Games with the two Kenyans ranked above her, not travelling to the Games.