Mokoena can do better, says coach

Considering his consistency this season, Khotso Mokoena’s coach Elna de Beer, believes the Olympic long jump silver medalist can break his African record at the Athletissima Super Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday night.

Mokoena leaped 8,50 metres in Madrid on Saturday evening to smash his South African record by 12 centimetres and Senegalese Cheikh Tidiane Toure’s African mark by four centimetres.

And the 24-year-old will face a line-up packed with most of the world’s best jumpers on Tuesday, which should push him to even greater lengths.

Mokoena jumped 8,33m three times this season before he broke the continental record and De Beer believes his new mark is under threat in Lausanne. She hopes, however, that he doesn’t peak too soon with the World Athletics Championships in Berlin still more than a month away.

“I think he can break it,” De Beer said on Monday. “I hope he saves his best for the World Championships, but he’s been so consistent this year.

“At previous competitions he’s been jumping 8,40m regularly but he has overstepped the board.

“He’s in good form, and I’m not saying he will break his record on Tuesday, but I know he can.”

Dwight Phillips enters the competition as firm favourite after jumping 8,74m in Eugene, Oregon a month ago, but the American won’t
have everything his own way.

Six of the world’s 10 best jumpers this season will be in the mix—including Australian Fabrice Lapierre, who defeated Mokoena in Madrid with an 8,57m jump that recorded a +3,7m wind reading.
That mark won’t count in the record books, but Lapierre will be tough to beat.

Also likely to push Phillips and Mokoena are Frenchman Salim Sdiri, Morocco’s Yahya Berrabeh and Chris Tomlinson of Great Britain, who have all leaped further than 8,20m this year.

Considering the quality of the line-up, Ivan Pedroso’s meeting record of 8,56m set in 1995 is under serious threat.
wo other South Africans are also included in the start list for Tuesday night’s meeting—Johan Cronje and LJ van Zyl.

Cronje, who set a personal best 3:35,11 over 1 500m in Thessaloniki, Greece four weeks ago, faces a strong field that includes four runners who have clocked faster times than him this year.

The 27-year-old will take confidence from his victory in Madrid on Saturday—beating former Olympic and World Championship bronze medalist Rui Silva into second place—and should put together another good showing.

Van Zyl hasn’t been in his best form this year in the 400m hurdles, and will look look to improve on his 48,71 season’s best set in Bydgoszcz, Poland four weeks back.

Van Zyl, who set his career best time of 48,05 in winning the 2006 Commonwealth Games title, also goes up against an impressive line-up that includes Jamaica’s Isa Phillips, who holds three of the world’s seven fastest times in 2009.

Mokoena, Cronje and Van Zyl have already booked themselves places in South Africa’s team for the World Championships, having set A standard qualifying times.—Sapa

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