Last chance for SA runners to qualify for Paris Olympics

Last chance for SA runners to qualify for Paris Olympics

The Durban International Marathon on Sunday will offer South African athletes one last opportunity to achieve qualifying times for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games.

So far, Stephen Mokoka remains the only male runner to have booked his place at the Paris Games, while Gerda Steyn, Irvette Van Zyl, and Cian Oldknow have also confirmed their spots in the women’s marathon later this year.

To qualify, males must achieve a time of 2:08:10 or less, while women must run under 2:26:50. 

President of Kwa-Zulu Natal Athletics Steve Mkasi has called on local athletes to seize the opportunity to make their Olympic dreams come true, which would also see the course records of 2:10:11 (men) and 2:30:31 (women) shattered.

"The opportunity for our local athletes to chase Olympic qualifying times is here, and with ideal weather conditions forecasted for Sunday, the stage is set for a record-breaking day," Mkasi told SABC Sport

"We’ve flattened the hills to ensure a smooth course, wishing all competitors the best of luck. I’m confident in predicting that the course record won’t just be broken – it will be smashed.

"With the calibre of international and local runners participating, I anticipate seeing times under 2:10:11 and 2:25 for women this weekend."

Former 10 000m World Student Games champion Milton Kekana, alongside Gladwin Mzazi, Simon Sibeko, and Elroy Gelant, have their sights set on meeting the Olympic standards.

Kekana is poised for his debut marathon appearance and is confident in his ability to deliver a stellar performance.

"I aim to post a competitive time, gain invaluable experience, and attempt to qualify for the Olympics. I’m in good spirits and confident in my ability to achieve a fast time,” he noted.

Although Mokoka qualified for the Olympics last year, he is competing in the marathon with the sole intention of clinching the coveted national title rather than smashing the course record.

"People often talk about breaking records, and while they are meant to be broken, titles remain forever. Winning a title secures a place in history, enhancing an athlete’s resume," he added.

"My name will continue to appear as a former champion for many years. At championships, I don’t worry about time; I aim to be crowned champion. 

"People will remember that Stephen won the SA title in 2024. A record might be broken the day after it is set and then forgotten, but titles are everlasting."

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