ATHLETICS coach, Cephas Pasipamire, says Olympics hopeful, Fortunate Chidzivo, stands a good chance of qualifying for the global sports showcase next year.
This follows an encouraging performance at the World Athletics Half marathon championships over the weekend.
Chidzivo ran 1hour 10minutes 50seconds, setting a new national record in the process, at the event held on Saturday in Gdynia, Poland.
She finished on position 27.
Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir came first in 1hour 5minutes 16seconds.
Germany’s Melat Yisak Kejeta was two seconds behind while Yalemzerf Yehualaw of Ethiopia was third in 1hour 5minutes 19 seconds.
Chidzivo was the only Zimbabwean representative and her participation was part of efforts by the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe to help with her preparations for the qualifying race.
Besides her South African coach Chris Bruwer, Chidzivo also worked with Pasipamire during her build-up for the championships.
The qualifying standard for women’s marathon is 2hours, 29minutes 30seconds.
“I am happy with her performance. The only challenge was in travelling but her performance was good,” said Pasipamire.
“We had targeted 69 minutes and she ran 70minutes so, still, she is in the right zone. She actually set a national record.
“This was 21km and she is supposed to run 42km, so if she can manage to run another 70 minutes in the other 21km in the marathon, its 2hours 20minutes.
“We can add an allowance of five minutes, and the qualifying time is 2hours 29 minutes, so I think she can qualify.
“We just need support resource wise. A lot of people were impressed with her performance, including her manager in South Africa and NAAZ, so we can only hope that this will open up some doors in terms of support.”
Pasipamire, a seasoned runner himself, said they were now moving to the next stage, specifically focusing on the qualifying race.
“We were saying that November, we start focusing on the marathon, so now we know what needs to be done.
“From Saturday’s race, she started well but the last 5km she had slower time because of fatigue, so we need to improve on things like speed endurance.
“We had limited time preparing for the World Half marathon but now I think we have more time, and we can work more on the areas of concern.
“The good thing is she is a hard worker and determined so, when we have enough time, we can complete our training programme.
“The areas we are looking at now, include strength training, which needs hill work,” said Pasipamire.
Local distance runners have become regulars at the Olympics.
NAAZ president, Tendai Tagara, was also pleased with the outcome in Poland. “Statistically she can comfortably run the 42km qualifying time. We are aiming that she runs two marathons.
“The coach was looking at one but we would want her to run one in December and another one in April.
“If she misses qualification in December she can run again in April. The challenge at the moment is marathons are difficult to come by because of Covid-19, but my desire is for her to run one in December then another one either in March or April,” said Tagara.