By Mark Etheridge
World 800-metre champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion LJ Van┬á Zyl and middle distance ace Peter van der Westhuizen all had mixed fortunes at Sunday’s adidas Grand Prix meeting in New York.
Mulaudzi’s a happy man with his comeback race after a freak injury suffered in training saw him missing the Oslo leg of the Diamond League series.
In New York he won with ease, leaving the congested field behind on the back corner. He went on to win in 1min 44.38sec despite the best efforts of American Nick Symmonds in the final stages. Symmonds clocked 1:45.05 and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego took another bronze, this time running 1;:45:46.
Van Zyl was once again up against a top-notch field but failed to dip under 49sec like he did in Poland (48.87sec) a week ago.
On this occasion he was left trailing in seventh spot, running 49.79 as Americans Kerron Clement (47.87) and Bershawn Jackson (47.94) both dipped under 48sec. Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson was third in 48.47.
“I didn’t run at all well,” said Van Zyl. “My usual finishing kick just wasn’t there. I’m coming home now to start preparing for the African Championships, I simply have to work on my speed again.”
In the men’s 1500m, Van der Westhuizen had every right to be expectant. It was at the same meeting last year that he ran 3:35 and qualify for last year’s World Championships in Berlin.
But on this occasion it wasn’t to be as he trailed in ninth in 3:37.34. The race was won by Kenyan Nicholas Kiptanui Kemboi in 3:33.29. Another athlete with SA connections took 12th. Alistair Cragg, who used to run for the Rand Athletic Club in Johannesburg but now represents Ireland, clocked 3:39.43.
In the men’s 100m Trinidad’s Richard Thompson was the first man apart from Asafa Powell to win a Diamond League 100m. He clocked 9.89 as six runners dipped under 10sec.
In the women’s 1500m, Kenya’s Nancy Langat continues to dominate. This time out she won in 4:01.60 to hold off Meseret Defar and at the same time improve the season’s quickest time by 0.03sec.