Mokoena falters as Mulaudzi soars

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

OSAKA - South Africa's hopes of winning a medal in the long jump went up in smoke when Khotso Mokoena came fifth in final of the event at Nagai Stadium last night.

But it was not all gloom and doom for South Africans last night after world No. 1 Mbulaeni Mulaudzi easily progressed to the semifinals of the 800.

Mokoena went into last night's event buoyed by his excellent performance that saw him finish first in the qualifier on Wednesday after a third leap of 8,28m.

But last night he looked a bit tired and lacked the energy that carried him to glory in the qualifier.

He jumped to 8,19m and Panamanian Irving Saladino, who looked a bit sluggish on Wednesday, won gold with an impressive 8,57m in his sixth attempt.

Italian Andrew Howe took a silver medal with 8,47m and American Dwight Phillips, who was the defending champion, won bronze with 8,30m in his first attempt.

"I was a bit tired today but I'll say that I learnt a great deal in this World Athletics Championships," a noticeably exhausted Mokoena told Sowetan yesterday.

"Participating at this level here has undoubtedly made me a better long jumper and I'm going to Germany for the Grand Prix Final in September with renewed confidence," he said.

Mulaudzi, on the other hand, came first in the third heat of the 800m and is now a strong medal contender for Sunday's final.

He clocked a time of 1min:45,56sec and was followed by Bahraini Rashid Ramnzi in 1:45,64 and Russian Dmitriy Bodanov in 1:45,66.