Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER over a month of uncertainty surrounding his qualification for the World Athletics Championships, long-distance runner Isaac Mpofu is a relieved man as he is now scheduled to attend the global meet.
Mpofu ran a qualifying time of 2hours 10minutes 24seconds during the Durban International Marathon in South Africa in May.
The qualifying time for the World Championships is 2hours 11minutes 30seconds for men’s marathon.
However, his qualification was left in limbo when he was disqualified for failing to wear a second bib at the back displaying a second licence number. He was wearing a front bib only during the Durban International Marathon.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe had to appeal to Athletics South Africa (ASA), who disqualified the athlete, so that they could reinstate his time in order for him to compete at the World Championships next month and they won the appeal.
Mpofu told The Herald yesterday that he has put behind the incident in South Africa to focus on the world meet which is scheduled to run from July 15 to 24 at Eugene in Oregon, United States.
“I am happy to represent the country in the World Championships. They say in everything we do, there are ups and downs, so yes I am a bit relieved.
“I am fully focused. I was a bit disappointed but I managed to let it go and start to prepare for other races, so now I am in full swing, fully focused and ready to work extra hard.
“I was training even before this announcement for World Championships, so nothing changes, I will continue to train and be ready for the race day.
“I have already passed the episode of disappointment . . . I have coped well so far. So I think I will try my best at the World Championships,” said Mpofu.
He is currently training in Bulawayo but according to NAAZ president, Tendai Tagara, the long-distance runner is expected to shift his training base to Harare soon.
“For now I am in Bulawayo, doing great with the coaches I have and my training partners.
“I surely have targets. I am trying my best to run under 2:10 in a marathon,” said Mpofu.
Head of the national event coaches team for middle and long-distance runners, Benson Chauke, said they are grateful for the positive development.
“Personally I am very happy. I am happy for him and I am happy for the whole team that helped him prepare for that particular event. And I am happy for the efforts, the sacrifice and all, at least was finally rewarded.
“We are happy for the time because it has become official. But you would also want something for the stomach, we have missed on the monetary prize that came with the position. But having half a cake it’s better than having nothing.
“So we are so grateful for this and that he has been entered for the World Championships,” said Chauke.
Chauke said they now have to work on getting the athlete ready for the next assignment.
“We will regroup and restrategise. But even before this, already we were working with a possibility of us going to the World Championships and not going to the World Championships.
“But now that this has become official, we are going to sit, consult and come up with a strategy of how to help him prepare for the World Championships.
“We don’t have much time. He didn’t have much time to recover from the previous race and then start all over. But we will see what we might need to come up with to ably prepare him for the next competition,” said Chauke.
Mpofu was part of the team that represented the country at the 2019 World Championships and will be making his second appearance at the world meet in the United States next month.