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Ruben has it all to do
- Updated: August 18, 2009
By Mark Etheridge
After Caster Semenya’s sensational charge into the women’s 800 metre final Monday night it has to be hoped the rest of Team South Africa draw inspiration from the youngster’s exploits at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Semenya blitzed into the final with a 1min 58.66sec semi-final victory, the quickest of the two semis, and will start in lane one as favourite for Wednesday night’s final.
Tuesday night sees five finals being contested, with Ruben Ramolefi the only South African involved when he tackles the 3,000m steeplechase (8.30pm SA time).
Ramolefi, the national champion, is going to have run the race of his life to get anywhere near the podium as he takes on 14 opponents. He’s not short of heart though and his semi-final at the weekend was run largely from the front en route to his third best time of 8min 18.24sec.
He said afterwards “my mindset is simply to go for number one on the podium. I’ll run fast and from the front and I think 8.02 will get onto the podium.”
Running 8.02 will mean him having to run nine seconds than his personal best.
The Kenyans have laid claim to the steeplechase title down the years and with defending champion Brimin Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi (quickest in the world this year with 7:58.85, and Paul Koech a six-time sub-8min runner, there’s not going to be much room left on that podium.
But in the morning session, with South Africans Thuso Mpuang and and Pieter Smith in action, the world’s eyes will be again be firmly focused on the phenomenon that is Usain Bolt.
After his awe-inspiring world record 9.58sec 100m blitz on Sunday night he moves up to the 200m.
It’s heats this morning and Mpuang goes off in the last of nine heats.
He goes into the race (10.53am SA time) with a season bet of 20.61sec but in all honesty he may have to go closer to his personal best of 20.53 if he wants to progress. Four of his seven rivals have run quicker this season, American Wallace Spearmon with 19.98 being the quickest.
The first three in each heat go through automatically, joined by the next five fastest times. Be sure not to miss Bolt’s blitz in heat five (10.29am) although he’ll probably not get out of first gear for this round.
Smith lines up in the sixth of seven 400m heats (11.40am) and coach Nico Van Heerden will be hoping Smith can cheer him up after his other charge, 400m hurdles ace LJ van Zyl, bombed out in the semi-finals on Sunday.
Smith is in the same heat as Jeremy Wariner, world champion in both 2005 and 2007. Smith takes a season-best and personal-best 45.63sec into the heat and starts from the outside lane.┬á Wariner has run 44.66sec this season, the only man in the heat to go under 45sec.