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Mulaudzi mixes it in Monaco

World 800-metre champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi will be one of four South Africans in Diamond League action in Monaco on Thursday.

Mulaudzi was runner-up in the last Diamond League meeting in Paris on Friday, running 1min 44.01sec as Sudan’s young star Abubaker Kaki took line honours in 1:43.50.

The two resume battle on Thursday evening but both will be happy to see that there’s no sign of David Rudisha in the starting line-up.

Mulaudzi will be looking for a better tactical display than in Paris where he got stuck behind a slower runner and was unable to get back in touch with Kadi. The Sudanese steps back for no-one and Mulaudzi’s going to have to keep a beady eye on him on Thursday.

Middle-distance runner Rene Kalmer was also in action in Paris where she ran the 5000m but she finished off the pace in 15:44, some way off her personal best of 15:35.

She returns to the 3000m distance on Thursday. In her last race over that distance earlier this month, she clocked 8:59.48 in a strange-paced race.

She bounced back from that race with a 4:07 finish in a 1500m race in Belgium a few days later, a season’s best for her.

Also returning to the fray is Commonwealth discus champion Sunette Viljoen. She threw 64.32m in the javelin in her last outing at the Aviva Grand Prix event, also a Diamond League fixture, in Gateshead, UK 10 days ago and is getting closer and closer to the top of the Diamond League rankings

“Definitely getting closer,” she smiled. Her enthusiasm will have been dampened by a death in the family, but she’ll hopefully be able to channel her sadness into a big effort.

“The rhythm was a bit out in Gateshead but apart from that the speed and power were both there so I must just concentrate on the rhythm,” she said.

And another Commonwealth champion returning to Europe for a second bite at the cherry is 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl.

Van Zyl, who turned 25 this week, will be hoping for a belated birthday present in Monte Carlo.

He showed a nice turn of speed to clock 48.87sec in Poland early in June but then faded to a 49.79sec in New York before returning home to work on his speed. “I’m looking forward to running in Monaco again. It’s the same race that I ran my personal best of 47.94sec. I’ll be happy to run something in the 48sec range and just keep up my good form on this track,” he said on Thursday.

Coach Hennie Kotze admits he was a bit worried about Van Zyl’s form. “I gather he had a few diet problems in New York which didn’t help his race. But he’s trained very hard since he came back and everything’s looking good in terms of training. It’s a tough line-up with the usual Americans but if all goes well it’s not unreasonable to expect a season’s best from in in Monaco.

Mark Etheridge