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Makhanya on the mark

Hot on the heels of Tebogo Masehla’s national 3000m steeplechase record in Belgium on Sunday, her best pal and training partner was also in ground-breaking action, writes Mark Etheridge.

Competing in the D’Athletisme de Montreuil meeting in Paris Mapaseka Makhanya lined up for her first ever crack at the mile event.

And the 2010 national 800-metre champion clocked 4min 39.59sec. It’s a certainly a European tour with a difference for Makhanya. Last week she raced the 3000m for the first time and clocked 9:22.

“Hey, it’s not a good time but I still think its respectable for a South African,” said Makhanya from France on Wednesday after ending seventh in the race won by Hind Dehiba Chayd in 4:29.59. “I really didn’t know how to run it and how it would feel but it was OK. My next race will an 800m in Germany,” she told Road to London 2012.

Two other South Africans were also in action at the same meeting. Gladwin Mzazi ended 14th in the 5000m (13:42.46) in a race won by Ayele Abayneth of Ethiopia (13:11.01) while youngster Jacques de Swardt ran 47.06 for eighth spot in the men’s 400m (winning time 45.73 by Bahama’s Michael Mathieu).

Meanwhile Caster Semenya will be in action again on Thursday night. After her season’s best 1:58.88 at the Prefontaine Classic in the US on Saturday she’s in Oslo, Norway for the next leg of the Samsung IAAF Diamond League series.

She’s the fastest entrant in the women’s 800m and told the IAAF website this week that she’s not looking for victory but rather a good time and in this case she wants to try and get under the 1:58 mark. The field is pretty well matched with the slowest time this year belonging to Lucia Klocova with a 2:01.65 while Mariya Savinova’s 1:58.9 hand-time is next quickest behind Caster.

Then Khotso Mokoena is still looking for that elusive qualifying mark for World Championships later this year. The 2008 Olympic long jump silver medallist needs an 8.20m to achieve A-qualifying standard but despite leaping 8.31 in the US on Saturday an illegal tail-wind meant it didn’t count for qualifying. He lines up in Oslo with an 8.19m season’s best. In this field, only Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah has leapt further this year (8.26m).

Promising javelin prospect Robert Oosthuizen is also in action. Already qualified for world champs at the Yellow Pages series earlier this year, Oosthuizen has mixed it with the big guns this year. On Thursday he comes up again Finland’s Vadims Vasilvskis who is the leading light in the line-up with an 88.22m best this season. Also there Is Finland’s Tero Pitkmamaki with an 85.33.

Finally Peter van der Westhuizen runs the 1500m. Having battled with sickness in the last few weeks, the US-based athlete will be looking to get back to his best form.


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