The Sunday News
VETERAN athletics coach and administrator Themba Mhlope believes Zimbabwe has a realistic chance for a marathon medal at the Paris Games next year.
He bases his argument on red hot national record holder over the distance Isaac Mpofu who continues to shine on the international scene with sumptuous times.
Mpofu has in the last 18 months run three sub 2 hours 10 minute times making him the best ever athlete over the distance.
Zimbabwe’s best in the distance was a seventh place finish by Cuthbert Nyasango at the London Marathon.
Nyasango’s best time over the distance was 2 hours 09 minutes 52 seconds. This was achieved on May 11, 2014.
Now Mpofu carries the hopes of 14 million people and his last time a 2 hours 07 minutes 39 seconds in the 42km was achieved at the Valencia Marathon in Spain on Sunday.
Despite a 24th place finish, it is his time that Mhlophe believes the country is on the right track and a potential medal hopeful at the Olympics.
“Isaac Mpofu is actually our medal hopeful for upcoming Olympics, preparations going well, where he is working they are giving him time to train, he is actually eager to run a 2 hours 05 minutes, I was talking to him last week” said Mhlophe.
Mhlophe said the athlete was in safe hands which is making him believe Zimbabwe stands a good chance to win a medal at the Olympics.
“Two hours 05 minutes, it will be a record that cannot be broken I believe the way he is training this time around we are going to have a medal at the Olympics,” said Mhlophe who has coached athletes who have won road races in America, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Mpofu ran himself to record books when he shattered the national record setting a mark of 2 hours 06 minutes 48 seconds last year on December 4 in the Valencia Marathon in which he was placed 12th.
This year he clocked 2 hours 07 minutes 39 seconds.
His other great effort was in another marathon run in Boston last year where he ran his first sub 2 hours 10 minutes 42km as he hit the tape in 2 hours 07 minutes 56 seconds.
He is the first Zimbabwean to run three consecutive such efforts.