NEARLY 17 months after registering his first qualifying mark with a time of 2:16.51 at the Chevron Houston Marathon, former UNC Pembroke all-American Pardon Ndhlovu was guaranteed a spot on the Zimbabwe Olympic Team that will compete in the 27th Summer Olympic Games in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August.

Last Thursday, the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe named three athletes to represent the country in the men’s marathon for Rio 2016. Ndhlovu, who is based in Augusta, United States, will join Olympians Wirimai Juwawo and Cuthbert Nyasango, who competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Ndhlovu has posted two Olympic-qualifying times in the last 17 months, dominating both the 2015 and 2016 Houston Marathon. He finished 10th in each race and crossed the line in 2:16.51 in 2015 and 2:17.32 in 2016. Both marks came in under the 2:19 qualifying standard.

Ndhlovu recently said he feels humbled and honoured to be selected to run for his country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

He told The Herald from his base in Augusta at the weekend that being selected to run for Zimbabwe at the Rio Games was the best thing that has happened to him in his career.

“I am humbled and honoured to have been selected to represent my country. I know it comes with great responsibility and I am ready to take the challenge. I am fortunate enough to have been named with two other Olympians — Wirimai (Juwawo) and (Cuthbert) Nyasango to represent Zimbabwe. “I am looking forward to learning from their past experiences since they have been at the Olympics before. I am excited because competing at the Olympics is not an everyday thing and I would like to thank NAAZ and ZOC for having faith in me,” Ndhlovu said.

At the Rio Games, Ndhlovu said he will be representing both Zimbabwe and his adopted home town of Augusta in the United States. Ndhlovu moved to Augusta three years ago to work as an Augusta University graduate assistant cross-country and track coach, under Adam Ward. — Sports Reporter/Augusta Chronicle/FayObserver

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