SOUTH African Edward Mothibi, who rose to become the country’s most sought after athlete after winning the prestigious Comrades Marathon in only his second attempt last year, said he was happy to inspire the next generation of Zimbabwean runners.
Mothibi touched down on Zimbabwean soil, which is home to four-time Comrades Marathon champion Stephen Muzhingi, armed with a story to tell on how he has managed to shrug off adversity and make his humble community proud.
Hence the presence of Muzhingi at the CBZ Marathon held at Old Georgians Sports Club in Harare on Sunday did not dampen his spirits, and if anything, made his visit and inspirational talk a lot easier.
“I take my hat off to Muzhingi for all the things he achieved in his career, he is a legend. When I came to Zimbabwe I wasn’t intimidated because I also have a story to tell,” Mothibi told the Daily News on the sidelines of the CBZ Marathon.
He urged local runners to keep on working hard because long distance running can change a person’s life like what happened to him.
“I come from a small village in the North West and my life changed for the better when I won the Comrades Marathon and that community is really proud of my achievements,” he said.
“Now I have to make time for people wherever I go as everyone wants to have a chat or a photo taken with me and all my fans are very important to me.”
The reigning Comrades Marathon champion said he was not disappointed after he failed to win the CBZ Marathon.
Much was expected from Mothibi on his maiden race in Zimbabwe but he came in fifth place after he clocked 2 hours 32 minutes and 42 seconds. Muzhingi, racing in the veterans category, finished in position 12 in 02:42:25.
Mothibi however, downplayed all the people’s expectations and said they should not read too much into his eventual position and the time he clocked.
“I am not disappointed that I didn’t win the marathon, when I came to Zimbabwe winning the CBZ Marathon wasn’t my aim but I came here to inspire other athletes on how you prepare for such big races like the Comrades Marathon and I think I managed to do that,” he said.
“When I was racing, I wasn’t part of the group that led the race. All I was doing was running my own race. I was using this race as part of my preparations to defend my title and I know that once we hit May, I will start feeling the pressure.”