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Athletics stars take stock

By Mark Etheridge

The African and World Junior athletics championships have come and gone, which means that for many of our athletes the long season has come to an end.

But for those still in action during the IAAF Diamond League meetings and hoping for spots on the Commonwealth Games team it’s back to the drawing board this week.

Or in Mbulaeni Mulaudzi’s case, the physiotherapist’s table. Our world 800-metre champion withdrew from the two-lapper semi-finals because of injury.

He’s back in South Africa now to re-assess his season. “The problem is a slight Achilles tendon injury.. a new injury, nothing like an old injury coming back,” said his agent, Peet van Zyl on Monday.

“As he told me if you want to be competitive and run against the likes of David Rudisha (the world’s quickest man this year and newly crowned African 800m champion), then you have to be in top form. So we’ve pulled him out of the Diamond League meeting in London next week and now his next meeting looks like being in Berlin on August 22. Obviously injury permitting. He’s had lots of running lately and I guess his body just needs a break.”

Meanwhile our other stars will be appraising the rest of their season with some taking a break, others heading right back into the fray.

Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles champion LJ Van Zyl rediscovered his form when he defended his African title in Nairobi and will be full of confidence for the rest of the season. “I’m relieved after my run. I was struggling to go sub 49-sec but now I’m back on track. Now I’m coming home for a short rest and then back into training.

“The 48.51sec felt good and I thought I ran well tactically. The time was good despite the fact that I had a bad last hurdle and lost moth momentum and time but it means that I can definitely go faster. And the fact that I’m African champion for the fourth time really means a lot to me. Now I can concentrate on the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.”

Another successful title defence came in the women’s javelin where Sunette Viljoen rose to the fore. “It was a crazily long competition but I had to stay focused as it was getting colder as the competition went on. But I had a good series, three over 60m and two out of the sector which were also in the 60m mark. I was very pleased to be African champ again and the fact that I threw a championship record. Now my next race will be the Diamond League meeting in London as I continue hunting that diamond.”

And African champion Elizna Naude will no doubt have one eye on her adductor niggle and the other on her next competition. “It was very sore the day before the competition but I’m just glad I didn’t injure it further. My next competition will be in Switzerland later this week and I really just want to enjoy the competition there. After that it’s back to the drawing board for World Cup and the big finale of my season, the Commonwealth Games.” Naude is also defending Commonwealth champion after her victory in Melbourne four years ago.”

Rising javelin star Ulrich Damon struggled with tonsillitis and injury while in Nairobi.

“Unfortunately I tore my Achilles tendon a bit more during my second throw. But I didn’t want to top and I fought on till I got my 70m throw. I’m not happy with fourth place but maybe next time.”