South African Athletics

SA's Mzazi fails in Olympic bid.

2016-01-22 12:54
Gladwin Mzazi (Gallo Images)

Dubai - Ethiopian Tesfaye Dibaba won an exciting and hard-fought race in the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:24, while South African Gladwin Mzazi failed to reach his ambition of an Olympic qualifying time.

In a high quality field that featured 28 athletes who had broken two hours 10 minutes, the lead group of 16 went through halfway in 1:01:16, which put them in line for dipping under the world record (2:02:57)

Fourteen runners remained on pace at 25km, but the group was whittled down to eight when they hit 30km in 1:27:30, with Dibaba content to remain a couple of metres off the pace until the Kenyan pacers pulled off.

The race thereafter became tactical for the $200 000 first prize, with 2015 winner Lemi Berhanu, Frankfurt winner Sisay Lemma, Dibaba and world junior record holder and 2014 winner, Tsegaye Mekonnen, breaking free.

With a drop to $80 000 for second place, and so many remaining in contention, speculation was that greater incentive for a world record could have seen the mark being broken.

Dibaba took control over the final kilometre to break the tape in 2:04:24 with Berhanu (2:04:33) and Mekonnen (2:04:46) also breaking 2:05. The top seven all finished in under 2:07, the best overall performance since the cold conditions of 2012.

Dibaba, 24, who came into the race ranked 93rd in the world, recorded the 17th fastest time ever and is now the 11th fastest athlete over the distance. He missed the Dubai course record by one second, but sliced over five and a half minutes off his personal best set in Mumbai one year ago this month.  

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye also improved her best by 37 seconds to take the ladies title in 2:19:41, the third fastest time over the Dubai course.

Tsegaye pulled away after the 30km mark and extended her lead to finish over a minute clear of debutant Amane Beriso who came into the race with a best of 68:43 for the half marathon, and now is equal 50th on the world marathon list.

Third went to Meselech Melkamu, the second fastest ever 10 000m runner (29:53.80), who ran 2:22:29.

South Africa’s Mzazi was running at a perfect pace for his goal of a 2:11:30 as he went through 25km in 1:17:58. However, with the heat increasing he lost his motivation to chase the 28 runners ahead.

“It was very difficult chasing the big group from the start,” said the Gauteng North athlete.

“After 30km I just gave up.”

Ironically, at this stage observers would see him moving through the field and he was 25th when he withdrew at the 31km mark. 

This is part of the challenge to South Africans who could benefit from running as a group to improve their times as they frequently find themselves alone in such events.

“Now I will focus on the World Half (in march in Cardiff), by doing some speed when the 31km is out of my legs,” said Mzazi who will hope to repeat the 27:56.9 he recorded in Stellenbosch last year.

“I don’t want to run another marathon now, so will look to qualify at 10 000m at the SA senior (track) Championships.”

With the IAAF qualification set at 28 minutes, Mzazi would join Stephen Mokoka and Elroy Gelant, who tends to prefer the 5 000m, as contenders for the 10 000m track event.

Read more on:    athletics

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