HomeSportNdhlovu edges closer to Olympic dream

Ndhlovu edges closer to Olympic dream

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UNITED STATES-BASED Zimbabwean long-distance runner Pardon Ndhlovu took a giant step towards qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after finishing a respectable 10th at the Houston Marathon in 2:16:51 to achieve a B standard qualifying time on Sunday.

DANIEL NHAKANISO
SPORTS REPORTER

Ndhlovu’s time meets the B qualifying standard of 2:18:00 for the 2016 Olympics as well as the IAAF World Athletics Championship and All-Africa Games to be held in China and Congo respectively.

In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday from his base in the US, Ndhlovu said he had now set his sights on the A standard Olympic qualifying time of 2:15:00.

“This is definitely a step forward towards running that A standard. I am pretty sure that by 2016 I would have dipped under 2:15 in the marathon and National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) or the Olympic committee can consider me to represent Zimbabwe in Rio 2016.

“I am happy that I was able to run the B standard this early which leaves room to pick up one or two marathon races to run the A standard before Rio. This means progress and I am getting close to achieving my dreams with every marathon I am running. I am at that elite level and I need some international exposure. With this race, I have qualified for the World Championships but it will be up to NAAZ to send me to Beijing in August,” he said.

“As far as my next race is concerned I will have to sit down and plan the rest of my schedule for 2015. My next race will depend on whether I go to the World Championships in which I hope I do. If that does not work I will be running another marathon in June, specifically the Grandmas marathon in Duluth, Minnesota,” he said.

The IAAF World Championships will be held in in Beijing, China from August 22-30 while the All-Africa Games are scheduled for September 4–19 in Brazzaville, Congo.

Ndhlovu becomes first Zimbabwean marathon runner meet the Rio Olympic qualifying time as the qualification period for the event together with the 10 000m, race walk and combined and relay events only started on January 1.

He is however the fifth local marathon runner in the running for a berth IAAF World Championships after national marathon record holder Cutbert Nyasango (2:09:52), Cephas Pasipamire (2:14:41), Gilbert Mutandiro (2:15:50) and Munyaradzi Jari (2:16:54).

Sunday’s Houston Marathon was Ndhlovu’s first major race since winning the Orlando Half Marathon ahead of 3,327 other runners at the event, including the winner of the 2014 Disney World Marathon whom he out-paced by nearly a minute.

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