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Our champs in action

Our reigning 800-metre world champion, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi is in Diamond League athletics action in Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday night.

He’ll come up against world record-holder and world No1 this year, Kenya’s David Rudisha and the race should be a good indicator of both their form ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this year, writes Mark Etheridge.

Mulaudzi has a season’s best 1min 45.50 to his credit. That means that five of the eight-strong field have run faster this year. Kenyan Sammy Tangui hasn’t raced yet this year.

Tangui’s countryman Rudisha is the world’s quickest with an impressive 1:43.46 run in Nancy, France last week after a spell off with injury. Next quickest is Poland’s Marin Lewandowski with a 1:44.61 this year. Also in the lineup is Kenya’s Alfred Yego who leads the Diamond Points list this year.

Another South African in action at the Athletissima meeting, the seventh of 14 Diamond League meetings, is Mulaudzi’s fellow world champion in the 800m, Caster Semenya. On this occasion she lines up in the 1500m, in keeping with her plan to double up in the 800/1500m at next year’s London Olympics.

Semenya’s part of a 16-strong field and on paper at least, is not expected to be up in contention for podium places. Her 4:12.93 best this season is second slowest of the field, only Norway’s Ingvill Makestad’s 4:25.93 being slower. But such is Caster’s class even in this less familiar distance for her that she can never be discounted at having a part to play in the final stages.

Quickest of the field this year is Burundi’s Yusuf Maryam Jamal who brings a 4:0.33 to the party with Diamond Points leader Anna Mischenko of Russia also in the field along with the powerful Ethiopian duo of Meskerem Assefa and Kalkidan Gezahegne and a host of other in-form girls.

In the men’s 400m hurdles there’s no LJ van Zyl, the world’s quickest man over the distance this year preferring to focus on training right but fellow South African Cornel Fredericks is flying the flag. His 48.14sec, run at SA championships this year, is quickest of an impressive eight-man field.

Then there’s more SA representation in the final event of the evening, the men’s’ 5000m where Peter van der Westhuizen will do pace-making duties in a field of 17. “The pacing will help pay the bills,” Van der Westhuizen told Road to London 2012. “Then I’m racing a 1500m in Cork, Ireland on 2 July. My season has been a bit of a disaster.

“After I fell in Oslo I injured my foot and bruised my ribs, only to have them bruised further in the race at Prague. I received a mean elbow in the bruised area and that was the end of it. I decided to train for a couple of weeks and recover here in Europe and try my luck after some recovery. Hopefully I can get the A or B Standard and will race as much as I can between now and the cut-off date.”


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