Athletics

Oscar, Caster in SA team

2011-08-08 12:26
Oscar Pistorius (File)

Johannesburg - Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius and controversial world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya have been included in South Africa's 26-member squad for the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, at the end of August.

"We selected all those athletes who fulfilled the qualification criteria," Athletics SA (ASA) president James Evans said on Monday.

"With 11 athletes competing for the first time at this level, we are very clearly looking to 2012 and beyond," he said.

"It is exciting to see this kind of talent at our disposal for the next four years, and with an average age of 24 years, this is quite healthy."

Pistorius, who was cleared to run against able-bodied athletes in May 2008, left it late, but qualified in style for the global championships.

The 24-year-old, a four-time Paralympic gold medallist, clocked a personal best time of 45.07 seconds at a meeting in Lignano, Italy, last month to book his place in the team.

Ranked 18th in the world this year, Pistorius improved the A-qualifying standard by 0.18 seconds.

He was also named in the men's 4x400m relay squad.

Semenya, meanwhile, was inconsistent in her build-up to the global championships.

The 20-year-old middle distance specialist, who was cleared last year to run against women, was thrust into the limelight at the centre a gender debacle after she won the 800m title in Berlin two years ago.

Her season's best of 1:58.60 - more than three seconds slower than her national record - has ranked her only 14th in the world heading into the global championships.

One of only five women in the South African team, Semenya had hoped to also compete in the 1 500m race in Daegu, but fell more than seven seconds short of the qualifying standard and was not selected for the longer event.

Fellow world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was even less impressive in the build-up, setting his slowest season's best in 10 years with a 1:45.50 clocking in Rome, Italy, in May.

Mulaudzi was 0.1 seconds off the A-qualifying standard, but was automatically selected as the defending champion in the men's two-lap event.

World and Olympic silver medallist long-jumper Khotso Mokoena was included in the team, but is in danger of being dethroned by young pretender Luvo Manyonga.

Manyonga, the world junior champion, leaped 8.26m in Jamsa, Finland last month.

However, Mokoena's season's best of 8.25m, set six days later, and his late run of poor form, belies his big match temperament, and the former world indoor champion could shine in Daegu.

South African 400m hurdles record holder LJ van Zyl started the season in superb form, setting the four fastest times in the world this year.

Much like his team-mates, though, he has stumbled in his stride in recent weeks.

Like Mokoena, the former Commonwealth and world junior gold medallist will have to rely on his ability to peak for global events.

SA team: 

Men:
100m: Simon Magakwe, Thuso Mpuang
200m: Thuso Mpuang, Lebogang Moeng
400m: Oscar Pistorius
800m: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi
5 000m: Elroy Gelant
10 000m: Stephen Mokoka
110mH: Lehann Fourie
400mH: LJ van Zyl, Cornel Fredericks
3 000m St: Ruben Ramolefi
Long jump: Luvo Manyonga, Khotso Mokoena
Triple jump: Thumelo Thagane
Javelin throw: Robert Oosthuizen
Decathlon: Willem Coertzen
4x100m relay: Simon Magakwe, Thuso Mpuang, Roscoe Engel, Hannes Dreyer, Lebogang Moeng, Gideon Trotter (reserve)
4x400m: Oscar Pistorius, Ofentse Mogowane, Wille de Beer, Shane Victor, LJ van Zyl, Cornel Fredericks

Women:
800m: Caster Semenya
400mH: Wenda Theron
Javelin: Sunette Viljoen, Justine Robbeson
Shot Put: Simone du Toit

Read more on:    oscar pistorius  |  caster semenya
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