Khotso Mokoena will start his build-up to the World Championships when he kicks off his season at the third and final Yellow Pages Series meeting in Bellville on Thursday night.
Mokoena, the Olympic long jump silver medallist, will add the triple jump to his schedule this season with his eye on doubling up at the global showpiece in Daegu, South Korea in August.
The 26-year-old was tremdously successful in both events as a junior, securing gold in the triple jump and silver in the long jump at the World Junior Championships in Grosetto, Italy in 2004.
While he has not competed in the hop, skip and jump for more than four years, Mokoena said he remained confident he would once again find success in both events.
“I haven’t competed in the triple jump in a long time, but I haven’t just shoved it aside,” Mokoena said on Wednesday.
“I have been training for the event and working on the technical aspects, and I’ve prepared well.”
Mokoena said he would focus on the long jump in his first event of the year, but planned to double at the South African Athletics Championships in Durban next month.
He was not expecting a record-breaking performance in his firs triple jump outing, but was confident he could break his national best later in the season.
In April 2005, at the age of 20, he leaped 17.25m to set a national senior record, but has not competed in the discipline since January 2007.
He said his immediate goal, however, was to qualify for both events ahead of the World Championships where he would look to improve on his long jump silver from Berlin in 2009 and step on the podium in the triple jump as well.
“On the domestic circuit I’m just going to try the triple jump and see how I handle it,” Mokoena said.
“I set the national record when I was 20 years old, so I’m confident I can improve on that mark, but I need to get back into it again and see how it goes.
“The important thing right now is to qualify for both events for Daegu, and again next year for the Olympic Games in London.” Mokoena will not have things all his own way in the long jump in Bellville, however, where he faces the likes of world junior champion Luvo Manyonga and Jamaican record holder James Beckford.
While Mokoena is the star attraction, the distance running events are likely to draw the most attention, with a stellar domestic field set to line-up in the men’s 5 000m race.
The remarkably versatile Stephen Mokoka will be up against the likes of South African junior 3 000m record holder Tshamano Setone and national record holder Shadrack Hoff as they chase a R10 000
incentive from the sponsors for a sub-13:20 time.
World 800m champion Caster Semenya will look to make up for a disappointing 1 500m performance in Pretoria two weeks ago, when she finished fourth, and steps up further in distance to compete over 3 000m in Bellville.
Semenya, however, will have her hands full against the likes of the in-form Phalula twins, Lebogang and Lebo, and a host of long distance specialists who will be eager to upset the global two-lap champion. – Sapa