Isaac Mpofu makes top ten

The Herald

Ellina Mhlanga
Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S Isaac Mpofu yesterday put up an amazing performance at the ongoing World Athletics Championships when finishing on position 10 in the men’s marathon and setting a new national record in Eugene, Oregon, United States.

Mpofu crossed the finish line in 2 hours 7 minutes 57 seconds to beat the previous national record that stood at 2 hours 9 minutes 52 seconds, set by Cuthbert Nyasango in 2014. For Mpofu, yesterday’s result was well-deserved considering the circumstances prior to his participation at the global meet.

He ran a qualifying time of 2 hours 10 minutes 24 seconds during the Durban International Marathon in South Africa in May.

But his qualification was surrounded by uncertainty and was 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 race.

However, the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe successfully appealed to Athletics South Africa (ASA), who disqualified the athlete, so that they could reinstate his time in order for him to go to the World Championships.

And yesterday Mpofu proved himself by making the top 10 at the global stage and should be a happy man.

Benson Chauke, who is the head of national event coaches for middle and long-distance runners and worked with Mpofu during the national camps preparations for the qualifying race and his build-up for the championships, could not hide his joy yesterday.  “We are ecstatic, more than happy, that’s what we wanted as Zimbabwe, to improve our time so that it is competitive with the world out there, the Kenyans, Tanzanians, and Ugandans. Just being among the top and with our flag flying high.

“Personally I am happy for Isaac. Durban would have brought grief but they say joy comes in the morning and this is our morning and we are happy. We are getting there. With more support, with more incentives, I think Zimbabwe can go far,” said Chauke.

The seasoned coach also saluted everyone that supported Mpofu’s journey.

“It’s a team effort and there are many other people behind the scenes, for example a very understanding and supportive wife who is never seen anywhere, other people and coaches who work behind the scenes.

“And there are friends that encourage him, such people we salute them for their effort. We say your effort has never been in vain because today our wish has been fulfilled,” said Chauke.

By finishing in the top 10, Mpofu emulates Nyasango and Tendai Chimusasa who also made top at the Olympics.

Nyasango finished seventh at the London 2012 Olympics and Chimusasa was placed ninth at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Chauke said there is need for recognition of such performances and achievements by Zimbabwean athletes.

In yesterday’s men’s ‘marathon race, Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola romped to victory in 2 hours 5 minutes 36 seconds to claim gold. He was followed by his teammate Mosinet Geremew with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes 45 seconds. Geremew also claimed a silver medal at the previous edition held in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

On third place was Bashir Abdi of Belgium in 2 hours 6 minutes 49 seconds.

Cameron Levins of Canada followed on fourth position in 2 hours 7 minutes 10 seconds and on fifth place was Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor with a time of 2 hours 7 minutes 15 seconds.

Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura and Gabriel Gerald Geay of Tanzania were sixth and seventh in 2 hours 7 minutes 18 seconds and 2 hours 7 minutes 32 seconds respectively.

Daniel Do Nascimento from Brazil settled for position 8 in a time of 2 hours 7 minutes 36 seconds and on position nine was Shumi Dechasa from Bahrain in 2 hours 7 minutes 53 seconds.

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