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Injured Ruben skips Kenya

Beijing 2008 Olympic track finalist Ruben Ramolefi will not be part of the South African team to do duty at the 17th African Athletics Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, starting on Thursday.

Ramolefi, who raced the final of the 3000-metre steeplechase event in Bejiing, has finally had to take a time-out and recover from injury.

His last race was in the Diamond League meeting in Gateshead, England just over two weeks ago. On that occasion he placed eighth in 8min 41.80sec, a time he would not be satisfied with, having a personal best of 8:11.

“The injury has been nagging for a while now,” he said. “So my coach Hans Saestad and I have decided in the light of this it will be wise to withdraw from the African Champs. This will make it possible to totally concentrate on the healing process and also the preparation for the Commonwealth Games in India in October.

“At this stage I can’t make any decisions on future races etc. I had this same foot injury back in 2004 so it’s good that this time I get medical help early enough to get back as soon as possible. I believe all things will work out for the good and am positive and focused on recovery now.”

Hans Saestad, Ramolefi’s coach, is still confident his charge can come good by the Commonwealth Games. “Hopefully we can resume our programme next Monday (1 August). If we can do that then we can peak for Commonwealth without doing anything stupid to catch up. Our big worry was that it was a stress fracture under the foot but thankfully that has been ruled out.”

Ramolefi’s withdrawal doesn’t leave South Africa without a representative in the gruelling steeplechase event. North West Province Edwin Molepo will fly the flag in Ramolefi’s absence.

And Saestad will also be keeping an eye on another of his steeplechase athletes, in this case Tebogo Masehla, in the women’s event.

“She started off well in Europe with a 4:27 but her other two events didn’t quite work out, on the one occasion she was sick and the other she started off a bit fast so I’m not quite sure exactly where she stands right now.”

Mark Etheridge