Mokoena makes Olympic Games long jump final | SASCOC - SASCOC

Mokoena makes Olympic Games long jump final

By Mark Etheridge
in London

Beijing Olympic silver medallist Khotso Mokoena sealed his spot in the final of the men’s long jump at the 2012 Games in London on Friday evening.

A best effort on the night of 8.02 metres saw him end seventh best qualifier behind Brazil’s Mauro da Silva and America’s Marquise Goodwin, who both jumped 8.11m. It was also Mokoena’s final jump of the night.

A total of 21 athletes took part in Mokoena’s Group A qualification batch and only two had better jumps this year going into the competition.

“There was a bit of pressure after that first no-jump and it was also different jumping into a bit of a headwind,” said Mokoena afterwards.

“But that last jump I knew I had done enough. I didn’t want another world champs 2011 repeat when I didn’t make the final! Now we’re happy, the run-up is good, we’ve got the speed so we’re good.

“Tomorrow is another day and there is definitely more in the tank. Today was just about getting into that final. I wouldn’t mind having to jump 7.01 if it was all it took.

“One thing is for sure I am going to go for gold because I feel in good shape!”

Not in such good shape was Olympic champion Irving Saladino of Panama who failed to land a legitimate jump.

A jump of 8.10 would earn automatic qualifying and America’s Marquise Goodwin’s 8.11m was the first to book his spot in Saturday’s final.

Mokoena, wearing bib No2785, was 16th to jump in his batch and opened with a no-jump on the first of his three permitted qualifying efforts, the official’s red flag sending out an early warning.

But his second jump was a lot better, a 7.81 effort that put him joint ninth best qualifier at that stage. It was also better than the 7.75m he jumped at his last competition before the Olympics, in Monaco.

And then out of the hat came that 8.02 which will give South Africans more hope of improving on their already impressive haul of four medals a week into the Games.