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Khotso solo in London

Long jumper Khotso Mokoena will be part of a star-studded line-up limbering up in London on Friday ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in South Korea at the end of the month, writes Mark Etheridge.

A total of 13 reigning Olympic champions are in action over the two-day meeting, as well as 10 reigning world champions. Mokoena’s claim to fame in this illustrious company is that he’s also an Olympic medallist (silver in Beijing three years ago) and also a World Championships runner-up.

Mokoena is our only competitor at the Aviva Grand Prix but will be in the thick of the long-jump action. He’s currently second in the Diamond Race, two points behind Aussie Mitchell Watt who boasts the season’s world-leading jump of 8.54m, also a personal best.

Mokoena’s best this season is the 8.26m he jumped in Paris although he had previously bettered the A-standard qualifying of 8.20 on more than once occasion but with the assistance of an illegal following wind.

Best South African effort this year has come from World Junior champion, Stellenbosch based Luvo Manyonga who jumped one centimetre further in Finland last month.

Of the 10-strong line-up jumping on Friday night, five have gone further than Mokoena this season, although two of them (Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah and Greg Rutherford of Britain) by just one and two centimetres respectively.

Also up against Mokoena will Olympic champions Irving Saladino (Beijing 2008) and Dwight Phillips of the US (Athens 2004). All in all a quality field now lets hope the results match up to the expectations.

Meanwhile SA’s two reigning world champions Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Caster Semenya will no doubt be keeping a close eye on developments in the 800m races. Neither are in action but Friday night’s races could give further indication of the threats to their crowns.

The men’s race features Kenyan world recordholder David Rudisha for his first match-up this year against Sudanese archival Abubaker Kaki. The battle between the two could stand on its own as a highlight of the evening. Rudisha’s best this year (and the fastest in the world) is the 1min 42.61sec he ran in Monaco, while Kaki’s 1:43.68 is the fourth quickest of the year. Throw in American Nick Symonds (1:43.83) and Rudisha’s Kenyan compatriot Boaz Lalang (1:44.20) and there should be some fine racing.

Semenya in turn will be watching the likes of Diamond Race leader Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair and Russia’s Irina Maracheva, who with season’s bests of 1:58.21 and 1:58.71, will be in the mix in Daegu later this month, along with Britain’s Jenny Meadows, third up to Semenya at the last World Championships.


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