gold at last!

BERLIN - Mbulaeni "Bullet" Mulaudzi's uncharacteristic decision to greet the fans before the 800m final at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics here yesterday was a sign of something special to come from the Limpopo athlete.

BERLIN - Mbulaeni "Bullet" Mulaudzi's uncharacteristic decision to greet the fans before the 800m final at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics here yesterday was a sign of something special to come from the Limpopo athlete.

He finished the meet with a gold medal, much to the surprise of many fans who wrote him off based on his lukewarm performance in the semi-finals on Friday night.

He qualified for the final as the fastest loser.

Mulaudzi doesn't normally greet fans when he is introduced before a race but said he did so yesterday because he was not stressed.

He is a reticent person and only speaks when spoken to. He prefers to do much of the talking on the track, like he did in fine style yesterday.

He admitted that words of encouragement from "my wife" back home also inspired him.

The seasoned campaigner claimed the gold medal in a time of 1min:45,29sec, beating defending champion Alfred Kirwa Yego of Kenya and Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain by six hundredths of a second.

It was a stunning performance by Mulaudzi who led throughout the race.

"It was not an easy race but you don't expect easy races at the championship," said Mulaudzi. "I made a good start and I moved up a gear at the 300m mark after seeing that no one was attempting to overtake me.

"I'm very proud of my achievement today and what also makes me much happier is that the two gold medals won here are from athletes from Limpopo (the first one being that of Caster Semenya in the women's version of the race). This shows that we have enough depth in our province."

It was Team SA's third medal overall at the championships after Khotso Mokoena won silver in the long jump. Tanith Maxwell came 45th in the women's marathon early in the day.

Meanwhile, Athletics SA's president Leonard Chuene has decided to temporarily step aside as IAAF board member until the case of Semenya is finalised.

Semenya is under a controversial gender probe after questions were raised here about her gender.

X