Team SA gets off to an uninspiring start
South Africa’s opening morning of competition at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships in Beijing got off to an inauspicious start yesterday.
The men’s marathon was the first event of the 10-day championships, and only one of three South Africans finished.
Desmond Mokgobu managed a slow 2 hours, 34 minutes and 11 seconds after Eritrean teenager Ghirmay Ghebreslassie won in 2:12.28.
Mokgubu was second to last of the 42 finishers, as the punishing conditions saw 25 competitors failing to finish.
Among them were Mokgobu’s team-mates Sibusiso Nzima and Benedict Moeng.
Ghebreslassie was Eritrea’s first world championships gold medallist and the youngest winner (19) of any world championships road event.
South Africa’s first track outing was also a brutal reminder of how tough the world stage is, as Rynardt van Rensburg came last in his 800m heat. Going off in the fifth of six heats, the young Bloemfontein athlete had a solid start to slot in second behind Umar after the first 200m.
The halfway bell tolled in an honest 52.62 seconds, and it was down the back straight that Van Rensburg dropped back to fifth spot as the business end of the race approached.
Coming into the final straight, he was unable to find that extra gear as the gap grew and he ended up bringing up the rear of the field in 1:48.61, more than three seconds off his personal best of 1:45.40, set in Slovenia last month.
Meanwhile, Olympic and world champion David Rudisha gave nothing away as he won the sixth and final heat in the slowest time of all the heats – a positively pedestrian 1:48.51 in his books.