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SA trio go through

By Mark Etheridge

It was business as usual in Berlin Thursday as first Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Sampson Ngoepe and then later Khotso Mokoena went through to the next phases of their competition at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

Running the first of the 800 metre heats Mulaudzi looked very much in control as he cruised to victory in 1min 46.40sec, beating Sudan’s Abubaker Kadi, the 2008 world junior and indoor champion, by 0.01sec.

Less than an hour later it was Ngoepe who followed the Sydney Olympics silver medallist through. Although for him it was a little more nerve-wracking as unlike Mulaudzi he finished outside the first three automatic qualifers and had to wait for the completion of the heats to hear he had gone through as 11th quickest of 22 qualifiers.

He placed fourth in 1:46.54 behind Canadian Gary Reed, the fastest qualifier of the day, and Athens Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy (1:45.86).

In the evening session it was Mokoena who followed his countrymen through in the  long jump qualification.

The Olympic silver medallist, South Africa’s only medal from last year’s Olympics, was third best qualifier.

He took just one jump on the evening and soared to 8.29m. This distance is no stranger to the South African, having jumped the same distance in three consecutive meetings earlier in the season.

Now he’ll do well to concentrate on 8.50m his season’s best, because that will put him in medal contention later in the week.

Top qualifier was Dwight Phillips with 8.44m, followed by a season-best effort of 8.30m from Britain’s Greg Rutherford.

The long jump final is on Saturday evening and the 800m final on Sunday, the last day of the championships.