SASCOC president Gideon Sam says that Khotso Mokoena’s winning leap of 8.33 metres in an international athletics meeting in Greece at the weekend is just the type of positive performance the country’s athletes need at the highest level on the Road to London 2012 campaign.
‘Khotso jumped 8.24m and won a silver medal, South Africa’s only success, at the Beijing Olympics last year. The winner (Panama’s Irving Saladino) claimed gold with 8.34m, so this jump, so early in the 2009 season, shows that Mokoena is in fine shape leading up to the IAAF World Championships in Berlin later this year.ÔÇØ
The winning distance in the city of Kalamata’s stadium nudged Mokoena up to third place in the world on the 2009 long jump list.
‘We at SASCOC are committed to the ’12 in 12′ campaign in London, and the announcement last week of the OPEX provisional 2012 South African Olympic squad further cemented our intentions. Khotso is one of four male athletes currently in Tier One, which we earmarked as potential medallists in London 2012 and his form shows why he is so highly-regarded,’ Sam added.
‘We need our athletes across all codes to stand up and be counted. Khotso was not the only one at the weekend who rose to the challenge. At an IAAF Grand Prix meet in New York, Juan van Deventer and Peter van der Westhuizen both had personal best 1500m times. We take great heart from their performances as well and wish them further success and want to ensure them we are watching and supporting them every step of the way,’ Sam said.
Van Deventer, 26, and Van der Westhuizen, 24, finished second and fourth respectively as they returned times of 3min 34.30sec and 3:35.33. Van Deventer was seventh in the 2008 Olympics and will be expecting to force his way into the OPEX squad over the course of the season. His time moved him to fourth place on the South African all-time list.
Both athletes also qualified for the World Championships in Berlin, dipping under the required IAAF A standard of 3:36.20.
Mokoena meanwhile, has his immediate sights set on his own national record (8.39m) set in Finland three years ago, and his long-range goal is the 2012 Olympics.
‘From the World Championships I want to double up and do the long and the triple jump, and take that forward to 2010,’ Mokoena told the official SASCOC quarterly magazine, Road To London 2012. ‘I’ll be doing the long jump and the triple jump at the next Olympics. I’ll start the triple jump again this year. I gave it up to focus on the long jump and that has paid off.
‘I have an Olympic medal which no one can ever take away from me,’ he said.
More likely though, is that he will only add to his collection, which is why all South Africans can take great pride.