Atlanta 1996 Olympics 800m Silver medallist, Hezekiel Sepeng, recounted the Athens 2004 Olympics 800m final as he paid tribute to former world 800m champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday.
"I was a friend of Mulaudzi on the track and off the track and from 2001 to 2005 we made sure we raised the South African flag high," said Sepeng during a memorial service held at the Standard Bank Arena.
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Sepeng's friend and protégé, was killed in a car accident on Friday morning, when his car overturned on the R555 road in Mpumalanga while on his way to Johannesburg.
Despite beating an off-form Mulaudzi to win the South Africa National Championships/Olympic trials in 1:46.76 in 2004, Mulaudzi had the last laugh taking silver medal at the Olympic Games in 1:44.61 while Sepeng settled for 6th in 1:45.73.
Mulaudzi was the flag bearer for South Africa at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Athens. He became South Africa’s first black athlete to be ranked number one in the world.
His list of accolades include titles at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, and the African Championships.
After a decorated career spanning over a decade, the 34-year-old retired last year.
Hezekiel Sepeng spoke with comic flair how the younger Mulaudzi beat him in the Olympic final despite increasing the pace and having a lead over him.
“I picked up the pace and with 200m I heard a ‘tsi’ [coming from Mulaudzi] and I thought I was going for the kill, he is a young boy,” Sepeng said.
“With 100m to go I said ‘I must finish him’. I tried to push. I heard ‘tsi’ and this time he was passing.
I would like to say Mbuli, goodbye my friend. Thanks for what you’ve done for me and for what you’ve done for South Africa.
ASA to provide buses
Meanwhile, Athletics South Africa (ASA) have made available ten (10) buses for sports fans in Gauteng who wish to attend Mulaudzi’s funeral in Limpopo.
“There were a lot of enquiries received and we felt assistance should be extended to those members of the public who need transport to the funeral in Venda,” ASA president Aleck Skhosana said in a statement.
Mbulaeni Mulaudzi will be buried at Muduluni village, in Venda, on Saturday.
The buses will leave on Friday from Johannesburg and Tshwane, allowing those who want to be part of the night vigil to participate.
The travelling times are as follows:
- Johannesburg – five buses leave Braamfontein Recreation Centre at 4:00 pm
- Tshwane – three buses leave Pilditch Stadium at 4:00 pm.
- Polokwane – two buses leave Peter Mokaba Stadium at 4:00 pm