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Obodwana, Clarke and Williams to represent home countries in Rio Olympics

As a world-class sprinter, South African 200 meter record-holder Anaso Jobodwana, a former Jackson State sprinter, is a seasoned racer but he is in a race of a different kind, to be fit and ready for the Rio Olympic Games in August. Meanwhile, Johnson C. Smith University track and field standout Kendra Clarke and graduate Shermaine Williams have both qualified for the Rio Olympics.

Clarke, an Edmonton, Alberta product, clocked a time of 52.97 to win her heat in the preliminaries of the Canadian Olympic Trials on Friday, July 8 and advanced to the finals. In the finals, she registered a 52.19, claiming third place, but more importantly, she bested the 52.20 Olympic qualifying mark to earn her a spot in Rio. She also will participate as a member of the 4×400 team.

Williams claimed second place in the 100 meter hurdles finals at the Jamaican Olympic Trials held at the National Stadium in Kingston last week. She finished with a 12.90 time which qualifies her to participate in the Rio Olympics in just under three weeks. The Olympic qualifying mark was 13.00 seconds. The track and field events begin on Aug. 12, the second Friday of Rio 2016, and run until closing ceremony day on Aug. 21.

Eight months since his last competitive race and Jobodwana, the world bronze medallist, is undergoing rehabilitation for osteitis pubis, inflammation of the pubic bone of the pelvis. Jobodwana admits the initial prognosis from the doctor reduced him to tears but instead of wallowing, he has been motivated by the faith fellow athletes and medical staff have expressed in his comeback.

With less than three months to go before he has to line up at his second Olympic Games, Jobodwana is surprisingly calm about his race against time. Jobodwana first experienced the abdominal pain at last year’s Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, and when it did not seem to dissipate, it was decided he should return to South Africa from his base in the United States to receive rehabilitation.

“Because of the people I am around, I am not really concerned and the people I spoke to that has been in this position before,” Jobodwana said. “Even though I’ve never been in this position, and I should be panicking but I believe in myself realistically. If I feel I won’t be able to do it I won’t go, if I am not in the shape that I feel I can win a medal then I will not do that.”

It can be argued Jobodwana has been the protagonist of South Africa’s sprinting revolution racing in the 200 meter final at his maiden Olympic Games in London four years ago. He boasts the rare double 100 meter -200 meter gold from the 2013 World Student Games in Kazan, Russia. For his encore, Jobodwana blitzed to a new South African record of 19.87 seconds to finish third behind former American world champion Justin Gatlin and world-record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica at the Beijing World Championships.

Jobodwana was taking a measured approach to his rehabilitation, and while he is unable to do full sprint sessions, he was improving in other aspects to be ready when he finally gets into the blocks. “I am not really worried about everybody else is doing, I am concerned with what I have to focus on now because I am running against time,” Jobodwana said. “I am in this space doing everything I can to maximize the little time I have. I am not doing intense training right now but I

can still do visualisations of my races. “I can replicate all the things that comes with training so that by the time I get to Rio I don’t step into an arena where I am out of my league. Coming from World Championships I know I am capable of doing that.” Jobodwana hoped to run his first race this month depending on how well he responds to rehabilitation and full-on training once he is back in race mode.

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