London – Long jumper Khotso Mokoena goes in search of a new personal best in his bid to earn a second Olympic medal in London next week.
Mokoena, who has yet to improve on his 8.50m leap in Madrid in 2009, has had to battle injury over recent years, but goes into the Games with a foundation of consistent hard training.
“Despite the injuries of the past two years, this year I'm healthy, injury free,” said Mokoena, who will remain in the athletic camp at St Mary's University College in Twickenham until Monday.
He then joins the remainder of Team SA in the village.
“It's time to reap what I've sown. I want to go out there and get a new PB (personal best). It's been a long time since 2009 so I'm going out there for a PB and see where that puts me.”
It was the same year he won silver in the Berlin World Championships, and then repeated the feat at the 2010 World Indoor Championships.
In 2011, he failed to make the final by 2cm.
“To be honest the standard of long jumping hasn't been the best this year,” continued the Gauteng North athlete, who believes the automatic qualifying standard will be set around 8.10 to 8.15m.
“But that means that all the usual guys will be there and it will be the one who is most hungry that gets it.
“In the past there have been new faces and challengers, but now we all know each other. Now it's down to who wants it the most. It's a whole new ball game.”
Mokoena's final outing before the games was a week ago in Monaco, where he finished last with a best of 7.75m.
“Monaco is always difficult. You're lucky if you have a slow run-up; all the fast guys battle with their run-ups,” continued the 27-year-old, “but Monaco is a lovely place to be. I wanted to go there to relax and enjoy my jumping before the higher intensity of the Games.”
As with all field events, one trial can change everything, so the run-up becomes critical.
“I prefer a new track and will wear new spikes for the competition. I haven't experienced this track yet, but I'll make a point of trying it a couple of days before the competition to see if it's as fast as I've heard,” enthused Mokoena, who attributes some of his poorer results to the training effect.
“You expect good and bad results when you are in heavy training, and of course the weather is not always an assistance. Now we've settled in London, the competition is on; I'm focused and simply looking forward to the Games.”
Mokoena is the most consistent athletics medallist since his introduction at world senior level in Helsinki 2005, and that's not a record he intends relinquishing. – Sapa