SA’s Cronje to compete in Oslo

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Johannesburg – Middle-distance specialist Johan Cronje will hope to build on his fine recent form as he targets a significant improvement on his personal best at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday.

Cronje, the only South African in the entry lists for the annual Bislett Games, will line up in the men's mile race (1.609km) in an effort to smash his career record of three minutes, 54.84 seconds (3:54.84).

While the majority of the best four-lap runners on the circuit are absent from the field, Cronje faces the likes of World Indoor Championships 1 500m bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia and Turkey's Ilham Tanui Ozbilen, formerly known as William Biwott Tanui, who set the world junior mile record in Oslo in 2009.

A total of 21 world senior records have been set at the famed Bislett track, best known for its middle distances races, in events ranging from 800m to 10 000m.

Norwegian Ingrid Kristansen was the first woman to break 15 minutes over 5 000m in Oslo in 1984, and Kenyan Yobes Ondieki became the first man to dip under 27 minutes over 10 000m on the same track in 1993.

The current women's 5 000m mark of 14:11.15, held by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, was set in Oslo in 2008, and Cronje will be eager to draw on some of the historic distance running performances produced at the stadium.

And while he failed to finish his last race, over 1 500m, at the World Challenge meeting in Hengelo at the weekend, he was hoping to bounce back in Oslo.

“Didn't have my best race today,” Cronje tweeted after the Hengelo race.

“Don't know if I trained too hard or didn't rest enough before, but I felt heavy and unenergetic. Only a few days till Oslo.”

The 31-year-old South African will need to improve his career best by more than four seconds to break the national mile record of 3:50.82, set by Johan Fourie in Port Elizabeth in March 1987, which may be slightly out of reach.

He has been in superb form this season, however, after clocking 3:33.46 to eclipse the 20-year-old national 1 500m record at the Diamond League meeting in Doha in May. – Sapa



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