Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S marathon runners seeking qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are still in a dilemma as they are likely to face challenges in securing qualifying races for the remainder of this year.
The Games were rescheduled for 2021.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe have short-listed six runners — Munyaradzi Jari, Isaac Mpofu, Ngonidzashe Ncube, Rutendo Nyahora, Fortunate Chidzivo and Ethel Sibanda — for men and women’s marathon, whom they are hoping can make the times for the Games.
While track and field events qualifying competitions are expected from December 1, the qualification system for marathon and race walk events opened this month.
Jari said he had entered for races that were scheduled early in the year and attempts to enter the rescheduled London Marathon could not bear any fruits.
“I think there is still a challenge even now because most of the races that are starting now are already full. They are taking elite athletes, who had already registered for those races before, they are the ones that are getting preference.
“They are taking limited numbers, so for us who had not entered before it’s difficult to get the opportunity to enter now. But we hope we can get a race between now and December.
“For the races that had been scheduled for April, so far only the London Marathon was rescheduled to take place on October 4. I tried to enter but it was too late. But we are trying to see if we can get any race around November, December, where we can get the chance to compete,” said Jari.
Jari, however, said he is not reading much into the uncertainty as he is optimistic there will be more races early next year, and that scenario will still work in his favour.
“Based on my plans, I wasn’t expecting a race (before end of) this year, so it’s a blessing in disguise and I am hopeful next year I can get a race early in the year.
“Initially my aim was to try and qualify, let’s say if I could race in November or December it was going to help in that even if I fail around that time, I will still get another race early next year so that I will be able to prepare for the Olympics” Jari said.
Jari has continued to adjust his training programme depending on the developments that were taking place in the past months and says it has worked for him. However, fellow athlete Isaac Mpofu, who trains with Ncube said they are starting afresh under the guidance of coach Lisimati Phakamile.
“To be honest we had a big challenge here in terms of preparation because of the coronavirus regulations we didn’t have much time to train. So right now we are starting to train to try and make up for the lost time. We started just last week,” said Mpofu.
The Bulawayo-based Mpofu said they are hoping with assistance from NAAZ they can find a competition before end of year.
“We are pushing for that because we have communicated with NAAZ. They have said they are going to find one or two competitions… Also we are putting our training programmes according to what they give us on the ground, expecting that if they are going to get us a race in December or November, we still have two or three months to prepare,” said Mpofu.
South Africa-based Nyahora has said that if anything comes up between now and December she is raring to challenge for qualification.