Mokoena building momentum
Khotso Mokoena will hope to continue his impressive build-up to the IAAF World Championships when he faces a world-class field in the men's long jump event at the Diamond League meeting in Paris, France, on Saturday.
After a steady start to the season, the former Olympic silver medallist has found his best form in four years, as he goes in search of his first world outdoor title.
One of South Africa's best track and field athletes over the last decade, Mokoena has bagged a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships, but his best performance at the outdoor showpiece was the silver medal he won in Berlin, Germany, in 2009.
Having settled for second place at the SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch in April, behind Zarck Visser, Mokoena leaped 8.16 metres in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of May.
Two weeks later, he produced a sterling 8.30m effort in Bad Langensalza, Germany – his best performance since he set the national record of 8.50m in July 2009 – as he booked his place in the SA team for the global championships in Moscow, Russia, in August.
Mokoena, the only South African in the entry lists for the Paris meeting, will face a quality line-up in the ninth leg of the Diamond League series.
Ranked fourth in the world this season, tied with Mexican Luis Rivera, the 28-year-old African record holder boasts the best distance in the field this year.
He is up against Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain and four-time world champion Dwight Phillips of the United States.
The long jump event in the French capital will have a somewhat African feel to it, with Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ignisious Gaisah of Ghana and World Championships bronze medallist Ngonidzashe Makusha of Zimbabwe also in the line-up.