Mbulaeni Mulaudzi has been burning up the track
since he abandoned football to take up athletics
10 years ago, but his staunchest supporters may not
know this: the middle-distance runner is the fi rst black
South African athlete to be crowned number one in
the world. Athletics South Africa presented him with a
R50 000 cheque for his achievement in 2006.
Like fi ne wine, Mulaudzi seems to be getting better
with the years. He stunned a classy fi eld of the world's
fi nest 800m runners to take the gold medal at the
World Championships in Germany last year. It was a
great meeting on the track for South Africa with Caster
Semenya and Khotso Mokoena also winning medals.
This was, of course, before the Semenya debacle kicked
in to overshadow the reigning 800m champion's
celebrations as the best middle-distance runner.
His consistency in the distance has ensured a steady
fl ow of invitations to the most prestigious races in
the world. It doesn't hurt much that they also pay
handsomely and he is able to live well on his
The 30-year-old from Limpopo had made the fi nal
at four consecutive 800m World Championships before
he stormed to victory in Berlin. During his best season,
2004, he carried his country's fl ag at the Olympics in
Greece and won the World Indoor Championships in
Budapest and an Olympic silver medal.
In 2006, Mulaudzi took silver in the World Indoor
Championships in Moscow. He returned from an injury
this year to win the two-lap race at the sixth Yellow Pages
meeting held in Germiston in April. And that race proved
that he is still the best middle-distance athlete in the
country, if that was ever in doubt. � Phathisani Moyo
Lunch spot: Mugg and Bean