Mulaudzi stays home | SASCOC - SASCOC

Mulaudzi stays home

By Mark Etheridge

There’ll definitely be no repeat of at least one gold medal for South Africa at the IAAF World Athletics Championships starting in Daegu, Korea later this monthÔǪ and the chances of repeating the other two medals they won in Berlin two years ago are also decidedly shaky.

Athletics South Africa yesterday confirmed what the track and field world pretty much knew already when they said 800-metre champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi would not defend his title.

Mulaudzi recently reunited with former coach JP van der Merwe after a lengthy spell where he was advised by Olympic medallist and SA record-holder Hezekiel Sepeng.

The world champion has had scratchy form at best this season, nowhere near what he is capable of when in top form. He missed SA championships in Durban early in the season and his best time this year is the 1min 45.50sec he ran in Rome in May. That time only ranks 59th fastest in the world this year.

Van der Merwe said Mulaudzi was struggling with a persistent hamstring injury, he also missed the final of the African Championships in Nairobi, Kenya last year with this injury.

In a brief statement Mulaudzi confirmed he would be out for the rest of the athletics season. “I need to take this injury seriously so I can be ready for the Olympics next year.”

Meanwhile the form of Mulaudzi’s fellow world 800m champion Caster Semenya continues to be a mystery.

Like Mulaudzi she’s done little of note this year and her best of 1:58.61, while the 19th quickest in the world this year has done little to inspire confidence. Her feared finishing strength seems to have all but evaporated and she seems unable to pick up the pace after many a slow start.

She recently pulled out of the World Student Games currently underway in Shenzhen, China. She had previously stated that these Games were going to be her final tun-up for Daegu but she sited a lower back injury as reason for her staying at home.

There was also talk that her relationship with coach Michael Seme was not what it used to be. But her communications team denies all this and said on Wednesday:┬á “Semenya remains disciplined, focused and excited about representing South Africa at the IAAF World Championship in South Korea. In true championship style, she has embarked upon a stringent training programme in preparation for the world event. Currently she is doing light, final training at the home base in Pretoria, South Africa. We wish to dismiss any rumours that there is trouble in her camp. These rumours are seen as attempts to discourage and distract her from her glorious quest for gold.

“We furthermore wish to assure South Africans and Caster’s supporters that all is well with our champ and that she is going to put up a strong fight in defence of her title. We call upon all sectors of the South African society to rally behind her and team South Africa as they fly the country’s flag high.”

South Africa’s third medallist at the last world championships was Khotso Mokoena’s silver medal in the long jump.

His 8.25m this year is 15th on the world list but he himself admitted after the Aviva Grand Prix in London recently that he had lots of work to do if he is to emulate his medal-winning feat of 2009.

His best leap ever is 8.50m and he jumped three centimetres shorter to win silver behind Dwight Phillips in Berlin two years ago.

Clearly there’s lots of work to be done and the other members of Team South Africa are going to have to step up to the plate if they are to repeat or improve on their three-medal haul from Berlin where they ended ninth on the medals table.