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Mulaudzi in action

The addition of 2009 world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and former world championship semi-finalist Frenchman Florent Lacasse has added some spice to the men’s 800-metre event at Saturday’s Yellow Pages Interprovincial in Germiston.

Mulaudzi won the world title in Berlin, Germany three years ago against all expectations but the defence of his title in South Korea last year was scuppered due to injury. Now Mulaudzi is looking to qualify for the Olympics in London later this year in the hopes of winning an all-important medal that is missing from his repertoire, an Olympic gold.

Mulaudzi won the Olympic silver medal in Athens in 2004 after having won the World Indoor title earlier that year. In 2003 he won World Championships bronze. His international breakthrough had came in 2002 when he won the Commonwealth Games title in Manchester.

Lacasse boasts a best time of 1min 44.48sec and is a wily campaigner. Whilst they have entered as individuals and as such their positions and times will make no difference to the interprovincial competition, the addition of these two athletes to the men’s 800m is guaranteed to ensure a good honest race.

More international flavour comes in the shape of former world champion and current world hammer throw record holder, Germany’s Betty Heidler.

Heidler is in the country, along with countrywoman Kathrin Klaas and Mareike Nannen, to prepare for the 2012 season and is keen to get in some early competition practice. Heidler is a regular at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria for her international preparation, so Saturday’s interprovincial is the perfect opportunity to simulate a competition environment without the pressure of an international meet full of world championship and Olympic medallists.

Heidler won the world title in 2007 and also won two silver medals at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships. The German was favourite to win the world titlel art year after her 79.42m world record throw in Halle, Germany on 21 May. She also won the European title in 2011 and is now chasing the only title she has still to win, the Olympic title.

Joining Heidler in Pretoria for training and in the competition on Saturday are Kathrin Klaas and Mareike Nannen. Klaas finished fourth at the World Championships in 2009 and seventh last year and boasts a best of 75.48m, whilst Nannen is the new kid on the block. At 22 years she is only beginning her hammer career, yet already has gone over 60m. Her best of 61.25m came in 2010 at the St Wendel Meeting in July that year.

Meanwhile, Mark Etheridge reports that Wayde van Niekerk’s injury woes are worse that initially expected. The 19-year-old current SA 200m champion pulled up at training this week with more problems to the hamstring that has given him problems previously.

“It’s now a Grade Two tear,” said Van Niekerk on Friday. “Initially the experts said I’d be out for two weeks but now it looks like being between four to six weeks. ‘I’m over the whole disappointed stage, I’ve pulled myself together and am moving forward now.”


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