Magakwe braces for Bolt duel
Simon Magakwe (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South African sprinter Simon Magakwe will be looking to continue his Olympic quest at the third leg of the Samsung Diamond league in Rome where he will be guaranteed a fast race against Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt.
Magakwe already reached the Olympic qualifying standard of 10.18sec in the men’s 100m a staggering six times on home soil, but the criteria agreed on between SASCOC and Athletics South Africa (ASA) states that one of two qualifiers must be achieved at an international meeting. Now the South African 100m and 200m champion will be giving it another go after two unsuccessful attempts in Ostrava (100m) and Rabat (100m and 200m).
Magakwe will be up against Jamaican Olympic Champion and World Record holder Bolt, Asafa Powell and Lerone Clarke. All three athletes have sub 10sec season bests. Magakwe met with Bolt in Ostava on 25 May where his nerves and excitement got the better of him, causing him to false start.
The 400m hurdles include LJ van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks, both athletes that have already qualified for the Olympic Games.
Van Zyl, the World Championships bronze medallist, has a fastest time this season of 49.42sec while Fredericks ran 48.91 at the SA Senior Championships in Port Elizabeth.
The 2011 World Championships silver medallist Javier Culson (PUR) as well as the champion David Greene (GBR) will line up in Rome along with Bershawn Jackson and Felix Sanchez (both finalists at the World Championships from USA). With the top six World Championships finalists lining up in Rome, it will certainly cause for tough competition.
The South African 3000m Steeplechase record holder Ruben Ramolefi needs 8:23.10 in order to qualify for the Olympic Games after reaching his first qualifier at the World Championships in Daegu, clocking 8:11.50, improving his own South African record.
The same applies for Khotso Mokoena who needs another A-standard performance of 8.20m to qualify for the Olympics. Mokoena reached 8.29m at Yellow Pages III in Pretoria on 20 April and jumped 8.10m in Doha on 11 May, finishing second.
Sunette Viljoen (javelin throw) and Caster Semenya will also continue with their Olympic preparation in Rome. Viljoen delivered her best performance of the season in Ostava on 25 May with a throw of 61.84m while Semenya, 800m SA Champion, comfortably finished second in 2:00.80 at the same meeting.
South Africa will also have a 4x400m relay team competing in Rome, consisting of Lebogang Moeng, Van Zyl, Willie de Beer and Shaun de Jager with De Beer, Moeng and De Jager all having run times under 46sec this year. Van Zyl has only competed in a single flat race at the beginning of the season, clocking 46.50sec.