Athletics

Mulaudzi has only one threat

2012-03-25 14:24
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (File)

Johannesburg - Two-lap specialist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi believes an Olympic medal is within his grasp, with only Kenyan world record holder David Rudisha promising to offer a major threat in the build-up to the London Olympic Games.

Mulaudzi, 31, won the men's 800 metres race at the Yellow Pages Series meeting in Potchefstroom on Saturday, in his first race in almost a year.

Crossing the line in 1:46.41, Mulaudzi missed the Olympic qualifying standard by 0.81 seconds.

"The only one to really worry about this season is Rudisha, because he's very strong," Mulaudzi said.

"The rest of the guys are going fast, but they're running pretty normal times.

"As long as I can get myself fully fit, I'm not really concerned about them."

Mulaudzi remained confident he had overcome Achilles and hamstring injuries which sidelined the defending champion from last year's global championships in Daegu.

"At the end of June [2011] I picked up the Achilles injury and I was out for three or four months," Mulaudzi said.

"It took a long time to come back from that, but I did a little easy training and lots of exercises and it healed quite fast, so I'm feeling good."

Caster Semenya, meanwhile, paid for a tactical error in her first 800m race of the season and got caught in a bunch in the first lap.

She hit the front before the bell, and while she coasted clear, she fell nearly four seconds off the qualifying standard to win in 2:03.60.

The 21-year-old, who won silver at last year's world championships, said she was confident of dipping under the 1:59.90 Olympic standard during the domestic season.

If she did, she would provisionally book her place in South Africa's Olympic team after she clocked 1:56.35 to step on the podium in Daegu.

"An early qualifier will happen anytime soon. I must just focus and the qualifier will come," Semenya said.

Four sprinters set the qualifying marks for London in the men's and women's 200m events.

Simon Magakwe won the men's final in 20.38 seconds, dragging Thuso Mpuang (20.50) and Lebogang Moeng (20.51) under the required time of 20.55.

Tsholofelo Thipe also smashed the qualifying standard (23.10) in the women's 200m sprint, winning the final in 22.89.

All four must now dip under the marks in an "international" meeting, according to Athletics SA qualifying criteria.

Olympic hopefuls must also compete at the SA Athletics Championships in Port Elizabeth in April to secure themselves a place in the team.

"It's really nice to see people running under the qualifying standards," Semenya said.

"Now I must just make sure that I do it as well."

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