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Olympics silver medalist back in SA

by Nthambeleni Gabara
on 24 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Long-jumper Khotso Mokoena, who earned South Africa's only silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is back in South Africa.

Mokoena, who specialises in long jump and triple jump, received a hero's welcome from fans, family, friends and government officials when he arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday.

It is not the first time that Mokoena has excelled in a major international event. In 2006, he won a silver medal for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Sydney, Australia for his triple jump.

In 2007, competing in the long jump, he was third in the All Africa Games in Algiers, third in the World Athletics finals in Stuttgart, and fifth in the World Championships in Osaka.

Earlier this year, in Valencia, he was crowned the World Indoor long jump champion with a leap of 8.08 metres.

He is the national record holder in the long jump with a distance of 8.39 metres.

Mokoena also owns the South African triple jump record of 17.25 metres. His best height in the high jump, achieved in 2001, was 2.10 metres.

The long-jumper also won a gold medal at the World Indoor Championships in Spain this year for his long jump.

The 23-year-old won the 2008 Beijing Olympics in impressive style, winning the men's long jump with a leap of 8.24 metres.

Mokeona ended Team South Africa's Olympic medals drought. The best that a South African had managed before then had been fourth place in the 200 metres freestyle by Jean Basson.

"Having a silver medal is something that I can cherish for the rest of my life. The guys were looking strong and I knew I was stronger," Mokoena had said earlier.

Cabinet has also congratulated the medalist.

"His achievement came at a time when South Africans had given up hope of getting a medal at these Olympics," said Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko, in a statement issued after cabinet held its ordinary meeting on 20 August. - BuaNews

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