SOUTH AFRICA'S most decorated indoor athlete, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, will miss the World Indoor Championships for the first time in almost a decade this weekend.
In the absence of the three-time medallist, who is focusing on his outdoor campaign this season, the five-member South African team will be led by defending long jump champion Khotso Mokoena.
"The world indoors is not a part of my plans this year," Mulaudzi said yesterday.
"My focus is on the African Championships, where I hope to qualify for the Continental Cup, and the Commonwealth Games."
The reigning world outdoor 800m champion won the world indoor title in Budapest in 2004, before earning silver in Moscow in 2006 and Valencia in 2008. And while he won't be looking for his fourth straight medal in Doha, Qatar, this weekend, he will be in action for the rest of the domestic outdoor season.
"I'm running in the national championships in Durban (on March 20 and 21) and the last three Yellow Pages meetings of the season," Mulaudzi confirmed.
A leg injury prevented Mokoena from competing in the European indoor season, and his only performance so far this year has been a 7,93m outdoors victory at the Yellow Pages meeting in Potchefstroom last week.
Nevertheless, the Olympic silver medallist said he remains "confident" of retaining the title he won in Valencia two years ago.
Mokoena will be joined in Doha by in-form middle-distance runners Juan van Deventer and Rene Kalmer - both of whom have set multiple national indoor records this season.
Peter van der Westhuizen lines up alongside Van Deventer in the men's 1500m, while long jumper Janice Josephs looks to repeat her performance in Valencia two years ago when she reached the final of her event. The IAAF World Indoor Champs kicks off in Doha on Friday and ends on Sunday. - Sapa