ROME — South Africa’s only medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Khotso Mokoena, qualified for this year’s global showpiece at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday.
Mokoena, who secured a lone silver in Beijing four years ago, reached the required distance of 8,20m with his final jump of the evening to clinch second place behind Greg Rutherford of Great Britain, who leapt 8,32m to snatch victory.
Also in fine form, South African javelin throw record holder Sunette Viljoen finally found her first big throw of the season.
Viljoen consistently dropped the javelin over the 60m mark, striking 67,95m with her last attempt to finish second behind world record holder Barbara Spotakova of the Czech Republic.
Two of South Africa’s major medal prospects for the London Olympics, Caster Semenya and LJ van Zyl, looked flat on the night.
Van Zyl continued in his struggle to find form in the men’s 400m hurdles, finishing second last in a pedestrian time of 50,33secs. Countryman, Cornel Fredericks, however, saved face as he held on to take third place in 49,21.
Semenya was once again off the pace in the women’s 800m event as she stayed with the leading pack in the first half of the race but fell back when the leaders shifted up a gear. The former world champion finished eighth in two minutes, 00,07secs (2:00,07).