Athlete Mulaudzi dies in car crash

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Published: Saturday 25th October 2014 by The News Editor

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South Africa’s former 800-metre world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi has been killed in a car crash on his way to to an athletics meeting in Johannesburg.

President Jacob Zuma said he was shocked and saddened. “The nation has lost a true hero and one of our most disciplined and talented athletes who flew the South African flag across the sporting globe,” he said.

World athletics body the IAAF, the South African Olympic committee and South Africa’s ruling ANC party also paid tribute to Mulaudzi, who retired last year after a 13-year career during which he became world’s top-ranked 800 metres athlete.

Mulaudzi won the world title in Berlin in 2009. He was also a former Commonwealth and world indoor champion over 800 metres and South Africa’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won silver.

He collected seven medals in total at the Olympics, world championships and Commonwealth Games and had a reputation as a tough, hard-working runner who many commentators said was underrated.

The IAAF said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death, while South Africa’s Olympic committee called him a “sports hero”.

“We have lost yet another icon in South African sport who raised the nation’s flag high in international sporting events,” South African Olympic committee chief executive Tubby Reddy said.

The ANC party said it was in mourning, with the reaction from both sporting and political leaders a testament to his popularity at home.

“I’ve lost a brother, a friend, and a national hero!!!” South African long jumper Khotso Mokoena wrote on Twitter. “Sad news to my soul. I’ve just learned the news.”

Mokoena, an Olympic silver medalist in 2008, posted a photograph of himself with Mulaudzi with both wearing South African team tracksuits.

Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800 metres at the 2009 world championships to give South Africa a gold medal double, also wrote a message for Mulaudzi on Twitter.

“I love you man,” she wrote, “will always love you CHAMP!!”

Published: Saturday 25th October 2014 by The News Editor

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