All is not lost for Mzansi

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

BEIJING - Athlete Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and BMX cyclist Sifiso Nhlapo yesterday moved a step closer to realising their dreams of winning medals at the Beijing Olympics.

The duo prevailed in their qualifying events with Mulaudzi defying flu to qualify for the semifinals of the 800m event.

Mulaudzi, winner of a silver medal in the same event at the Athens Olympics, finished second in a time of 1min:47,64sec.

Michael Rimmer of Great Britain came first, three seconds ahead of Mulaudzi.

"I'm not well because of flu but the doctor cleared me to compete today [yesterday] and hence I took part. I was affected by an air conditioner at the Athletics Village but I'm happy I managed to go through to the semifinals," Mulaudzi said.

"We will see tomorrow [today] about the progress and we will take it from there. It is my wish to be well and compete in the final."

Samson Ngoepe, making his debut at the Olympics, failed to make it to the semifinals after he finished fifth in his heat.

Kenyans Wilfred Bungei and Kirwa Yego are also through to the semifinals, which will take place today.

Spaniard Manuel Olmedo and Russian Yuri Borzakovskiy, the reigning Olympic champion, will also sweat it out in the semis in their quest to advance to Saturday's final.

Earlier in the day, Nhlapo pulled off a fine performance when he claimed a top spot in his heat to book a berth in today's semifinals.

He finished ahead of Arturs Matisons of Latvia, Raymon van der Biezen and Kyle Bennett in heat two.

Those who qualified will have to negotiate their way to tonight's final through semifinal runs this morning.

But Nhlapo's display yesterday suggested he can reach the final.

One of South Africa's medal hopefuls, Hendrick Ramaala, is expected to arrive in Beijing today for the marathon on Sunday.

Ramaala went to train in Albuquerque in the US for three weeks. The other South African marathoner is Norman Dlomo, who is already in China.

Josia Thugwane, another prominent South African runner, also went to Albuquerque in 1996 for training before winning the Atlanta Olympic marathon.

Team SA Events Today:

Sifiso Nhlapo - BMX Cycling semifinal run 1 (3.08am); Robert Oosthuizen - javelin qualifying round Group A (3.10am); Rene Kalmer - women's  1500m heat (1.18pm); Odette Richard - gymnastics individual all-around qualifier rotation 2 (1.19pm); 800m semifinals (1.50pm); Men's 4x100 relay heat (2.20pm).