Mpofu up against  the world’s best Isaac Mpofu

Lovemore Dube

ZIMBABWE’S most priced road runner Isaac Mpofu, who has already qualified for the Paris Olympics, will today take on the best there is when he runs the 2024 Boston Marathon in the United States.

The event is expected to give a rough idea of what to expect at the Olympics.

Judging from the past, this marathon attracts the best in the world and a strong or top 20 finish will leave Zimbabweans with hope for another good performance over the distance at the Olympics.

Last year Mpofu finished 19th in the event in which over 10 000 runners took to the starting point and 2024 may even attract an even bigger field.

Last year athletes were still apprehensive following a Covid induced sports ban between 2020 and 2022.

In last year’s event, Mpofu finished in position 19 with a time of 2 hours 14 minutes 08 seconds.

The winner won it in 2 hours 05 minutes 54 seconds, a gap that may have been over 2.2km, which is a lot, and a better time and place is expected of an athlete who has not only grown on the road but is now a brand good enough to attract sponsorship.

He is sponsored by Adidas and back home he was presented with US$10 000 sponsorship by Nedbank Zimbabwe, who are becoming a powerhouse in athletics funding, a fortnight ago.

Last week’s winners of the PPC Matopos 33 Miler, Prosper Mutwira and Chiedza Chokore, run for Nedbank Zimbabwe, whose sister club in South Africa is the most celebrated and successful in the last decade of road races attracting athletes from all over the continent.

Mpofu won bronze at last month’s Ghana African Games after finishing third in a very strong field which had all the dominant countries in marathons’ athletes taking part.

The shorter distance must have worked magic in his speed work and tactics. He could not have wished for a better motivation than a continental medal and timely sponsorship as he prepares for Paris.

“We aim to help Isaac so that he focuses ahead of the Olympics hence we have covered up areas in which he needs support as he prepares.

“All we want is to see him doing the best and raise the country’s flag high,” Nedbank Zimbabwe head of treasury Latifa Kassim was quoted as saying at the presentation of the sponsorship.

Mpofu earned his Olympic slot in 2022 and has run a marathon in 2 hours 6 minutes, which is within the qualifying standard of 2 hours 08 minutes.

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