Hendrik's Dubai dash | SASCOC - SASCOC

Hendrik’s Dubai dash

Four-time Olympian Hendrik Ramaala will be looking to make it a high five and qualify for the South African team at the London Olympics later this year, writes Mark Etheridge.

He lines up in Friday’s Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon looking to run the 2hr 15min A qualifying time in a stellar field that includes 18 sub 2:08 marathoners chasing the $250,000 first prize.

Ramaala, who has a personal best time of 2:06:55 in London in 2006, turns 40 next week and is the grand old man when it comes to post 1992 South African Olympians.

He’s hoping to celebrate that with a performance close to 2:10. ÔÇ£This is very important for me. I’ve done some great sessions at home, and am looking to make the (Olympic) team,” he said at this week’s pre-race press conference. “For me, 40 is the new 21. I’ve watched Dubai on TV, and seen Haile [Gebrselassie) and the Kenyans go for world records here. If the wind drops I think we’ll get some wonderful timesÔÇØ.

Should Ramaala run a qualifying time and make it onto Team SA he, like all non-Kenyans, will still have a mountain to climb.

An amazing 162 Kenyans were under the Olympic qualifying time of 2:12 in 2011 and the east African nation ran off with all the major events in 2011, according to the Time to Run athletics website.

A field of more than 2000 are expected in the race’s 13th running and more than million dollars in prize money is at stake. Not bad for a race that started with a field of just over 200 athletes.

Last year’s race was won byÔǪ you guessed it, a Kenyan Barmasai, in 2:07:18 while Ethiopian legend Gebrselassie holds the course record with his 2:05:29 course record in 2009.