EL’s best hope of gold in Rio

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•Marathon runner Lusapho April is confident he can do it

SARAH KINGON

EAST LONDON- based marathon runner, Lusapho April, 34, is all set to represent South Africa at the Rio Olympics on August 21.

This is his second time aiming for gold at the Olympics, after an unfortunate fall during the London Olympics in 2012 caused him to limp home in 43rd place.

Still holding the record for the Hannover Marathon in 2013, winning it in two hours, eight minutes and 32 seconds, and winning the race again this year (2:11:27), April is confident he can win gold next month.

FIGHTING FIT: East London based marathon runner,  Lusapho   April , is hard at work preparing to represent South Africa at next month’s Rio Olympics in Brazil
FIGHTING FIT: East London based marathon runner, Lusapho April , is hard at work preparing to represent South Africa at next month’s Rio Olympics in Brazil

“I am most looking forward to going and trying to win the race. You only get this chance once every four years,” April said.

He has been training hard since the beginning of the year, completing between 160km and 220km per week, running two hours per day.

April said his biggest competitors on race day would be the Kenyans, Ethiopians, defending champion Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda and Meb Keflzighi from the United States of America.

April’s coach of the last 20 years, Karen Zimmerman said: “Lusapho’s preparation started at the beginning of this year and he’s been injury-free, so he just needs to execute his race plan perfectly on race day and, if everything goes according to plan, he will do very well.”

This is April’s 15th marathon of his professional running career over the last eight years.

He believes that “discipline, dedication and hard work” have assisted him in achieving success.

“Lusapho is prepared to put in all the hard training, he’s got the right build for a marathon runner, great strength-to-weight ratio, and he has managed to bounce back from disappointments and persevere,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said that when she first met April, she had exclaimed: “Here is my marathon runner.”

At that point, the champion runner was only 14 years old. April’s advice for young runners aiming for the Olympics is: “Work hard, set goals and work toward achieving those goals.”

Oxford Striders Running Club hosted a presentation of congratulations at the club in Nahoon last week at their time trial, wishing April, who is also a member of their club, all the best for his trip to Rio.

HOMEGROWN TALENT: Oxford Striders Running Club hosted a special presentation for  Lusapho   April  last week during their time- trial, where they wished him well for his marathon event at the Rio Olympics next month Picture:DEAN VENISH
HOMEGROWN TALENT: Oxford Striders Running Club hosted a special presentation for Lusapho April last week during their time- trial, where they wished him well for his marathon event at the Rio Olympics next month Picture:DEAN VENISH

“I would like to thank everyone for all your good wishes and support and a big thank you to my sponsors Adidas International, Jumbo Clothing and Volkswagen SA,” April said.

The marathon running event will take place at 2.30pm SA time on Sunday August 21.

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