By Mark Etheridge
Spare a thought for South Africa’s four athletes in action at Thursday’s sixth day of the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.
While South Africa basks in a golden glow following Caster Semenya’s barnstorming victory in the women’s 800m final last night, Olympic silver medallists Khotso Mokoena and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi as well as Samson Ngoepe must focus on their own medal chances.
And Willem Coertzen goes in the second and final day of the demanding decathlon disicpline. The London-based athlete has the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and draining 1,500m events to tackle Thursday.
Coertzen, who returned personal bests in the 100m and 400m codes yesterday, is in action from 10.05am SA time already while the men’s 800m┬á heats start at 11.45am.
Mokoena must wait until the evening session when the long jump qualification begins. And there’s no doubting he’ll have one eye on the podium tonight already – for when Semenya is awarded her gold medal at the victory ceremony.
It’s the country’s first medal for six years, the last medal was in Paris, back in 2003 and despite the stress around the IAAF’s impending gender tests on her, Semenya will celebrate.
The IAAF have a 12-man medical commission and are in contact with doctors in South Africa. They will be investigating the situation and are expected to have results in two to four weeks.
Mulaudzi, Olympic silver medallist in Athens, 2004, goes off from the inside lane in the very first heat. He’s been something of an unknown factor this year after a lengthy bout of flu early in the season but his 1min 44.81 season best should still be enough to move through easily today, with the firt three in each of the seven heats qualifying automatically and the three fastest times joining them.
Ngoepe is in the third heat and he too, with a season-best of 1:45.17 should go through as he’s third quickest of the heat this season.
Mokoena, our only medallist at last year’s Beijing Olympics, has been a model of consistency in the build-up to World Championships, setting a continental record of 8.50m and soaring to world-class 8.29m efforts in three consecutive meetings. He’s in Group B of the 45 competitors and only Panama’s Irving Saladino has leapt further (8.63m) this year.
Meanwhile South Africa’s marathoners — Norman Dlomo, Johannes Kekana, Coolboy Ngamole and Tanith Maxwell arrived in Berlin yesterday. The men’s marathon is on Saturday (11.45am) and the women run on Sunday, the final day of the competition (11.15am).