Johannesburg – Two of South Africa's top track and field athletes are taking very different approaches to the season, according to their manager, but they both share the same ultimate goal.
Long jumper Khotso Mokoena has already competed twice this month, while middle-distance runner Caster Semenya is not yet gearing up to race, with both of them targeting medals at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, in August.
Mokoena kicked off his 2013 campaign on the European indoor circuit with a victory in Tampere, Finland, last week with a leap of 8.01 metres.
The former Olympic silver medallist followed up that performance with a jump of 7.95m to win again in Estonia on Tuesday.
“Khotso is certainly not near his best form yet, because we have been practising very hard, trying out some new techniques,” said Jukka Harkonen, Mokoena's coach and manager.
“Taking this into account, I think Khotso did well in Estonia. He had two quite good jumps, but was unlucky with his third attempt when he overstepped by about three millimetres. It could have been a jump of 8.10m to 8.15m.
“He also overstepped with about 1mm in his fifth attempt, which could have been a jump of well beyond 8m.” Mokoena has struggled with his run-up the last couple of seasons, but Harkonen was confident he would recover this year as he aims to step on the podium in Moscow.
His next meeting is in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 21.
Meanwhile, Harkonen said Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya would take a more sedate approach to the early part of the season as she targets her third straight medal in the women's 800m event at the global showpiece.
“She will, therefore, start her season slightly later,” Harkonen said, “in order to be at her best around June.” – Sapa