Road to London: Marc Mundell

2012-05-25 12:03

Cape Town - In the 10th in a series of Q 'n A style interviews with South African sportsmen and women ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Graeme Joffe chats to SA athlete, Marc Mundell.

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Road to London: Kate Woods

Road to London: Cameron van der Burgh
Road to London: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi

Road to London: Gideon Sam

Road to London: Marcus Retief

Road to London: Freedom Chiya

Road to London: Irvette van Blerk

Road to London: Chad le Clos

Road to London: LJ van Zyl

GRAEME JOFFE: Walking, an Olympic discipline that is not often spoken about and South Africa’s Marc Mundell will be competing in the 50km walk in London. Marc, congratulations on your qualifying time in Russia a couple weeks ago.
MARC MUNDELL: Graeme thank you, really delighted, the realisation of years and years of dreaming, at primary school, reality that has eventually materialised.

JOFFE: You did a 3.57.57 in Russia, which is almost seven minutes better than your South African record. And I heard the conditions in Russia were really tough, with extreme heat.
MUNDELL: The tough standards set by SASCOC meant that I had to really push myself beyond my limits and I had to focus on what needed to be achieved. So, the whole season and the last 30 odd weeks has been all about one race, all about preparing to qualify, and just a lot of concentration and a decent amount of preparation. Hard, hard work and I am just absolutely delighted that it all worked out on the day.  No distractions, no hesitations, just real great hard effort.

JOFFE: Was this your one and only chance to qualify?
MUNDELL: I originally wanted to go to Slovakia early this year in March but I had a niggling injury from October last year that wouldn’t have prepared me adequately enough to go to Slovakia in March. So, we ended up putting all our eggs into one basket and this was the final opportunity internationally to qualify for the Olympics in the 50km event. It was all or nothing and I had to seize the opportunity. I had a fantastic support team, fantastic support back home and from the entire South African Race Walking community. Just knowing that I had the support and the backing, I was able to go over and really race my heart out.

JOFFE: Watching the walking at the Olympic events, it looks so close to jogging. I know there are strict rules around it and almost every Olympics, there is someone disqualified. How do you keep yourself from not getting into a jogging stride?
MUNDELL: Graeme, it really comes down to technique and being on the line. A lot of people in track and field liken us to long jump where you going as close to the board as you possibly can, and hoping not to overstep. With walking, it is just a bit more measurable, in terms of the human eye and evaluating whether they believe that the knee is bent or not, whether or not you are losing contact with the ground. I have a technical coach who has been looking after me for a number of years and has been really fantastic working together with him, making sure that my technique is within the range and limitation. But that being said, if you are not getting warnings and you are not on the edge, at the end of the day, Olympic medals are won by people who are right on the edge.  So, it is interesting to see what happens going forward but at the moment I am happy that my technique is very adequate and  meeting international panel of judges’ requirements.

JOFFE: Marc, you spoke about it earlier, it was a dream from primary school already to go the Olympics. How did it all start?
MUNDELL: My father had a couple of bad experiences playing rugby and tobogganing, where he slipped a disc in his back and tore ligaments in his knees. The doctors said that he wasn’t allowed to run and put too much strain on his body, and they recommended walking and as any competitively minded person is prone to do, you have a competition to see who can walk the fastest, just like you have a competition to see who can whisper the loudest. So, he ended up walking and making the provincial team in KZN and going from that, to making one of the first South African teams post apartheid and post isolation, He competed in 1993 in the Race Walking World Cup and again in 1995. I was then at an impressionable age where I had to literally follow in his footsteps and eventually made a career out of it. The rest so to speak is history, He had the vision and the desire and I managed to follow through.

JOFFE: Competition wise in South Africa, are there a lot of walking events?
MUNDELL: There are two different categories, the main one is mass participation walking, which includes events like the 702 Walk the Talk, the big walk in Cape Town and then you have more of a professional circuit where people are in the Race Walking fraternity, racing a lot.

JOFFE: Marc, great to chat to you and all the best for the London Olympics.
MUNDELL: Much appreciated, thanks very much Graeme.

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 169 and streaming worldwide on Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy