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Mulaudzi’s form bodes well
- Updated: July 23, 2010
When the country’s track and field team for the Commonwealth Games is announced the first name on the list must be Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, writes GARY LEMKE.
The South African who was crowned men’s world 800m champion by the closest of victories in Berlin last year, is running into the type of form that will make him a medal certainty for the multi-coded Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.
On Thursday, at the┬á IAAF Diamond League track and field meeting in Monaco, he was pipped into third place behind Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki and Kenyan Boaz Lalang, with Mulaudzi being credited with a time of 1min 43.29sec. That improved his season’s best of 1:43.58 by a stride and now he is the fourth quickest athlete in the world over the two laps for 2010.
Ahead of him are David Lekuta Rudisha, Kaki and Lalang, but Sudan isn’t a member of the Commonwealth, so Mulaudzi’s likely challengers for gold in New Delhi will be the two Kenyans. And the world champion relishes the format of a world championship, an Olympics and a Commonwealth Games, the competition format of it, and having to progress through a series of rounds before the final, where tactics, rather than time, plays a huge part.
There are few athletes in the world who have the fighting spirit of Mulaudzi. He might be approaching his 30th birthday, but the South African is showing no signs of losing his appetite for racing on the big stage. He won the 2002 Commonwealth Games gold, but his longevity and class extended to 2009 where he added the title of world champion to his impressive CV.
In South Africa, he is not afforded the credit he deserves, and little doubt that if he was to race in a┬áBritish or American vest he’d be one of the most high profile sportsmen in the land.
Elsewhere, despite the fact that Sunette Viljoen only managed a 59.93m distance in the women’s javelin in Monaco last night, last month’s best of 66.38m in Prague is another eye-catching pointer towards the Commonwealth Games.
Of the six women who have thrown further than her this year, none of them come from a country that’s a member of the Commonwealth, which suggests the South Africa is another who will have high expectations of a medal. Dare we think of gold? England’s Goldie Sayers, with a season’s best of 63.15m might have other ideas, but if Viljoen takes her ‘A’ game to New Delhi there’s no reason why she won’t be standing on the top step of the podium.