Team SA gets off to an unin­spir­ing start

CityPress - - Sport - – Sports24

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.

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