BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE’S Rutendo Nyahora survived the sweltering heat and humidity to finish a commendable 21st in the women’s marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, yesterday morning.
On a day in which 33 of the 68 women who lined up for the marathon didn’t get to the finish line due to the unbearably hot and humid conditions despite the race being scheduled for midnight, Nyahora held her own to finish the race in 2 hours 52 seconds.
Nyahora’s final position was a significant improvement from the previous edition of the IAAF World Championships in London two years ago, where she finished in position 47.
The 30-year-old South Africa-based runner, who competed in the women’s marathon event at the 2016 Summer Olympics, said although she slightly missed her target of finishing inside the top 20; she was pleased with her overall performance.
Nyahora is now targeting qualification for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I’m so happy with my performance even though I missed my target of finishing in the top 20, but I can see a huge improvement and I’m now looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Nyahora told Standardsport in an interview yesterday.
“The conditions were terrible, the humidity was high, but I just told myself that I have to push myself in the tough conditions and see if I can handle it to the finish line. Even now the qualification time [for the 2020 Olympics] is 2 hours 29 minutes and I don’t have that time at the moment and I wanted to see if
I could challenge myself in difficult conditions,” she said.
The race was won by Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich, who overcame the brutally hot and humid conditions to take the first gold medal of the 2019 world championships in a runaway marathon victory under the lights.
Chepngetich finished in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 43 seconds and crossed the finish line at 2:34am Doha time Saturday in a race that began at midnight in an attempt to beat the heat but the conditions were still tough with temperatures of 32°C and humidity reaching over 70%.
Defending champion Rose Chelimo, representing Bahrain, took the silver medal with Namibia’s Helalia Johannes claiming the bronze medal.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s representative in the triple jump at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, Chengetayi Mapaya, failed to progress to the final round after finishing 25th in the qualifying round at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Friday night.
The 20-year-old, US-based rising star, who is on an athletic scholarship, finished 25th out of 33 competitors with a best jump of 16,36m to miss out on qualification for tonight’s finals which were reserved for the top 12 jumpers.