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Mbulaeni gets No 3
- Updated: August 23, 2009
Another medal! South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi produced a stunning sprinter’s dip at the line to win the men’s 800 metre┬á title in a photo-finish at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Berlin, Germay on Sunday.
The 2004 Athens Olympics silver medallist’s achivevements┬á sat ever so nicely with Caster Semenya’s 800m gold (controversial that it may have been) and Khotso Mokoena’s silver in the long jump on Saturday.
So that made it three medals and South Africans can grin from ear to ear… the last World Championships medal was six years ago in Paris when Hestrie Cloete won the high jump. South Africa have both the two-lap titles in┬á Berlin!
Mulaudzi, who had really battled early in the the season with a bad bout of flu, led from start to finish, clocking 1min 45.29sec, with defending champion and Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Yego of Kenya claiming silver and newly-crowned world 1,500m champion Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain getting bronze.
Twenty-eighty-year-old Mulaudzi went straight into the lead after the runners came together after the first bend, and the pack stayed tight through the first lap.
Jostling for position started early as the pace accelerated when the runners heard the bell for the final lap, American Nick Symmonds (a heat winner) in second with Moroccan Amine Laalou in third behind Mulaudzi. Hitting the 600-metre mark at 1:19, the pack spread out as they hit the home stretch, Mulaudzi desperately fighting to retain his lead from the inside lane.
Kamel hit his stride two lanes further out and at first glance looked to have the beating of the South African but after a series of gruelling heats for both the 800 and 1500m, Kamel didn’t quite have the legs to produce a decisive kick to the front. The top four finishers dipped savagely for the line, more in the style of top-class sprinters than two-lap specialists.
Russia’s former Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovsky finished in fourth at 1:45.37, with Laalou in fifth and Symmonds in sixth.
Apart from his Olympic silver, Mulaudzi has three world indoor medals – including one gold – and bronze from the 2003 World Championships in Paris, but reckons yesterday’s win was the best of his career.
“This is the most important medal for me,” he said. “Today I was brave enough to control the race and to change the gears in my own time.”
“At the 300m mark the pace was slow so I picked up as I felt the guys were tired, so I took on a long kick so everyone would die before the finish … and it worked!”
Earlier in the day our sole marathon representative, Tanith Maxwell, placed 45th in 2:41:48 as China’s Xue Bai won the women’s title in a time of 2:25:15.