Mulaudzi eyes Olympic qualifier

2012-03-22 12:50

Johannesburg - After a disappointing season in 2011, former world 800 metres champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi hopes to get his Olympic build-up off to a cracking start on Saturday.

Mulaudzi said on Thursday he had fully recovered from persistent leg injuries and would be gunning for the Olympic qualifying time of one minute, 45.60 seconds (1:45.60) in his specialist event at the second Yellow Pages Series meeting in Potchefstroom.

"One of my training partners has agreed to set the pace, so we're going for the A-standard qualifying time," Mulaudzi said.

"If the conditions are perfect, and if nothing goes wrong, we can definitely go under that."

Mulaudzi, 31, struggled last year, setting his slowest season's best (1:45.50 in Rome) since he was a teenager.

Having come off a superb season in 2009, in which he set a 1:42.86 career best in Rieti and won the world title in Berlin, Mulaudzi hoped to bounce back at the London Games in July.

The silver medallist at the Athens Games in 2004, the veteran middle-distance star failed to reach the final in Beijing four years ago, and he hoped to recover his best form in the English capital.

"I had an Achilles injury last year, and I battled with hamstring problems, but I'm feeling strong and I'm 100 percent," Mulaudzi said.

"The most important thing this season is to try and get on the podium in London."

A host of South Africa's leading athletes were included in the start lists released on Thursday for the second leg of the top-flight domestic series this weekend.

Another former global two-lap champion, Caster Semenya, makes her season debut in her specialist event.

Semenya clocked 53.62 seconds to win the women's 400m race in her 2012 opener at the inter-provincial athletics meeting in Bellville earlier this month.

African record holder Sunette Viljoen squares up against a trio of Czech athletes - former world junior champion Jarmila Klimesova, Irena Sediva and Eliska Klucinova - in the women's javelin throw.

Hardus Pienaar, a two-time IAAF World Cup silver medallist, also faces a stiff international challenge in the men's javelin event against Czech athletes Viteslav Vesely, fourth at last year's world championships in Daegu, and Jakub Vadlejch.

One-lap hurdles specialist LJ van Zyl ditches the barriers for his season debut, lining up in the men's flat 400m sprint.