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Mulaudzi leads SA charge

By Mark Etheridge

While the Soccer World Cup builds to a climax this week, our track and field athletes will once again be gracing the European circuit.

In form world 800-metre champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi turns out at Thursday night’s Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Friday night he won the two-lapper in Madrid, Spain. “We’re very happy with his form,” said his agent Peet van Zyl on Wednesday. “He’s well over that training ground injury he had a few weeks back and is running nicely again. After Lausanne he’ll run in Monaco again at the end of the month.”

While focus will centre on Olympic and world champion Usain Bolt’s comeback in the 100m dash after Achilles injury, Rene Kalmer also be doing her thing in Lausanne on Thursday. She ended sixth in the 1500m in Madrid last week and this time ups the ante when she runs the 3000m. She ran a personal best 8:44.17 in Paris last month and will be looking for more of the same.

Beijing Olympian Ruben Ramolefi is also in action in the 3000m steeplechase and will again have his work cut out against a quality field.

Late last month Ramolefi placed third in the seldom-run 2000m steeplechase event in a meeting in Reims, France, clocking 5min 26.46sec.

Multiple national 1500-metre champion Johan Cronje runs only his second race in almost a year after a long battle against injury. He lines up for the metric mile again.

And the Bloemfontein athlete will be looking to build on his 3min 37.3 third placed finish in Madrid last Friday. He’s been training in a sweltering Spain for the last while. “Training is picking up slowly so hoping I’ll be in much better shape by Commonwealth,” said Cronje on Wednesday.

There’s another Diamond League meeting in Gateshead, England on Saturday and at least two South Africans will be in action here.

It will be back to business for Commonwealth champion and African recordholder Sunette Viljoen in the javelin.

She had a superb 66.38m effort in Prague three weeks ago. Since then she’s been on a week’s training course in the Czech Republic before coming home to South Africa.

“Training’s been going well for the last two weeks,” Vijoen said on Wednesday. “I’m very excited about competing at Gateshead and then Monaco, just as I was excited to throw in Prague. I don’t like making predictions because obviously anything can happen on the day. I just know that I’ve trained really had and I know where my get my strength from. So the world can come at me, I’m ready for anything.”

Also running at Gateshead will be United States based Peter van der Westhuizen. He took sixth in the mile (3:55.98) at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon at the weekend. In third spot was another South African middle-distance athlete, Juan van Deventer (3:54.76).

Said Van der Westhuizen: “My Pre Classic was disappointing but it at least showed some consistency. I feel like I have not put a good race together yet but will have some chances in the next couple of weeks, hopefully at Gateshead.”

Meanwhile South Africa’s Paralympian Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius, recently ran his second best 400m yet against able-bodied athletes, when he clocked 46.33sec at the Italian championships in Grosetto, Italy. He’s also in action on Thursday, where he will again run 400m at another Italian meeting in Celle Ligure.