South Africa’s athletics team at the world championships needs just two more medals to secure its richest haul to date — and Wayde van Niekerk is in pole position to deliver them.
The sprint star is poised to win SA’s next two gongs — the country’s fourth and fifth of London 2017.
That would surpass SA’s best world championship return of four medals at Paris 2003‚ comprising two gold and two silver.
Van Niekerk is the favourite going into the 400m final on Tuesday night and he is a strong contender in the 200m‚ which will be decided on Thursday.
If Akani Simbine‚ struggling with a hip impingement‚ can’t add to the tally in the 200m‚ Caster Semenya should be able to in the 800m on Sunday night.
SA’s three medals so far have come from Semenya (1500m bronze) and long-jumpers Luvo Manyonga (gold) and Ruswahl Samaai (bronze).
Kenyan Kalalei triumphs in Athens Marathon
Samuel Kalalei won the 35th Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday as Kenyan runners dominated the grueling, largely uphill course by sweeping the top five places in the men’s race.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in two hours, 12 minutes and 17 seconds, ahead of Milton Kiplagat Rotich, who clocked 2:14.18, with Jonathan Kiptoo Yego in third at 2:16.08.
The women’s race was won by 18-year-old Ethiopian Bedaru Hirpa Badane in a time of 2:34.18.
Around 18,500 runners from dozens of countries took part in the authentic marathon which began near the tumulus erected for the Greek dead from the Battle of Marathon.
Another 30,000 participated in the shorter 5km and 10km races in downtown Athens.
According to legend, the 42km route from Marathon to Athens was first run by Pheidippides, an Athenian messenger who in 490 BC dashed to the city to announce victory over the Persians, before dying of exhaustion.
Run on a four-lane concrete avenue through the urban districts of east Athens with a finish at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the 1896 Olympics, the race is a challenge for runners as much of it is uphill.
Moroccan born European 5000m champion arrested in doping raid
Reigning European 5000m champion Ilias Fifa was arrested in Barcelona on Wednesday as part of a doping probe, sources of the investigation confirmed.
Fifa, born in Morocco but who has represented Spain since 2015, was arrested at his home on Wednesday morning in Santa Coloma de Gramenet on the outskirts of the Catalan capital.
The 28-year-old is just one of a number of arrests being carried out in operations « for crimes against public health and the use of medications with great danger to health » said a statement from the Catalan High Court of Justice.
The Court also confirmed the operation carried out on Wednesday began with a police investigation back in June.
Fifa took advantage of Mo Farah’s absence to claim European gold at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam.
That had been the crowning glory in an inspiring rise to fame as Fifa arrived in Spain 11 years ago as an immigrant hiding in a truck.
Rooney ponders switch to 800m
Martyn Rooney is the first to admit his 2017 has hardly been a year to remember but big changes could be on the horizon as he ponders a switch to the 800m.
The two-time European 400m champion anchored Great Britain to 4x400m bronze at the World Championships in London this summer, yet has struggled with his performances in the individual event.
He finished sixth in his heat in the capital with a third-place finish in Brussels, his best performance on the Diamond League circuit.
But the 30-year-old insists that he desperately needs a motivational spark and that could come in doubling his distance on the track – a move recommended to him by Lord Seb Coe.
Yet Rooney is under no illusions as to the challenges that await if he is to switch, knowing only too well he can’t take anything for granted at this stage of his career.
« I have to find some new goals and find something that is going to excite me, » he said.
« Seb Coe says I need to go and run an 800m, so we’ll see what the winter brings.
« A change is as good as a rest and there are some great 800m coaches in Loughborough, so it would be great to jump into a couple of sessions and see how it goes.
« It’s not been a great year – in fact it’s been an awful year – but it’s a year when I asked for two things: a healthy baby [his daughter Ciada was born in August] and a world medal.
« I got both. I got the things I wanted, so I can’t be greedy. It’s my 11th year on the circuit and sometimes, you are going to have a bad year. »
While the athletics world is turning its attentions to next year’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, Rooney faces the possibility of remaining on British shores after not reaching the qualifying standard.
But an opportunity could arise if selectors decide to send a relay squad Down Under, with Rooney even offering to pay his own way.
« The Commonwealth Games is completely out of my control, » he said.
« I haven’t hit the standard and they don’t know if they are going to take a relay team because of the cost.
« I’ve said I’ll pay for my flights. I don’t mind doing it but it’s up to the selectors and whether they want to take a team or not.
« My senior individual debut was in Melbourne, so it would be nice to go back and have another go.
« With a good winter behind me, you never know what could happen. »
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