Mulaudzi, Vlasic both hamstrung by injuries

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Mulaudzi, Vlasic both hamstrung by injuries

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Two world champions look destined to lose the chance to defend their titles at the IAAF Athletics World Championships in Daegu this month.

Blanka Vlasic of Croatia and South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi are both dealing with injuries less than two weeks before the tournament begins.

Mulaudzi, the men’s 800-meter world champion, has been ruled out by a hamstring injury that will keep him out for the rest of the year, while question marks loom over whether high jumper Vlasic will recover in time after damaging the same muscle group.

South Africa’s athletics federation said on Wednesday that Mulaudzi will definitely be a no-show in Korea, which is preparing to host its first Athletics Worlds, after he failed to recover from the injury that has now begun to affect his lower back.

“I need to take this injury seriously so I can be ready for the Olympics next year,’’ Mulaudzi said in a statement, adding he will sit out the rest of the season to allow him to fully recover for 2012.

Mulaudzi won the 800m title at the 2009 Worlds in Berlin, but has been held back by the leg injury for most of this season.

The 30-year-old former world indoor and Commonwealth Games champion missed the South African nationals at the start of the season, and has managed just one solid performance this year - a second-place finish at the Diamond League meet in New York in June.

Mulaudzi’s coach, JP van der Merwe, said the previous hamstring injury had flared up again and treatment had not worked.

Mulaudzi’s victory in Berlin was his first outdoor world title, but the achievement was overshadowed by fellow South African Caster Semenya, who won the women’s 800m as a teenager and amid a storm of controversy over gender tests.

Meanwhile, Vlasic, 27, could miss the party depending on the results of last Saturday’s scan to check the severity of a partial rupture of her left hamstring, the Croatian said on her Web site (www.blanka-vlasic.hr) on Wednesday.

“The scan was taken after constant pain which hampered high-intensity training and [on Tuesday] morning, the doctor confirmed a partial semimembranosus rupture,” she said.

A final decision is expected to be made sometime today, she added.

Vlasic, a silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has dominated the women’s high jump after winning gold at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka. She repeated the feat at the 2009 event in Berlin, and also won the 2010 European title. Vlasic set a personal best of 2.08m in Zagreb in 2009, just one centimeter short of Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova’s 1987 world record.

The Worlds run from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.


AP, Reuters

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