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Marc’s big Games stride
- Updated: May 14, 2012
By Mark Etheridge
Our Marc Mundell is walking on sunshine on Monday after qualifying for the London Olympics later this year.
The Johannesburg walker strode to 26th spot in the men’s 50-kilometre event at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Saransk, Russia on Sunday.
The event was an Olympic qualifying event and Mundell’s finishing time of 3hr 57min 57sec was 1:03 inside the Olympic A standard mark.
His time was not only a huge personal best but also a national and African record. Race winner was Sergey Kirdyapkin, the Russian setting a world-leading 3:38:08.
Speaking from Russia Mundell told Road to London 2012: “I’m completely elated. It’s a moment in your life that you can never really fully prepare for. All the planning and preparation is done in the background, often in the dark when nobody cares and it is only ‘me and the road’.
“The realisation of a childhood dream is without description. I think I’ll only believe fully when I am standing on the start line in London on Saturday 11 August. Right now, I have 13 weeks of preparation ahead of me. I’m so grateful to my friends and family, medical team, training partners, coach, work (USSA), sponsors & supporters.
Mundell, 28, said weather conditions were not ideal but being his only chance to qualify it was walk or bust. “I had a pretty awesome race today. The conditions were so lousy ÔÇô super hot throughout. But I had to utilise it, no matter the conditions. I battled with the heat throughout the race, pouring water all over my body. It constantly evaporated each lap and dehydration/over-heating was a concern.”
Going into the event Mundell was quietly confident though having record 10km and 10km road and track bests earlier in the season.
Speaking of his race he said: “I started off ahead of pace and kept going, recording 10km splits of: 47:15; 94:05; 2:20:43; 3:08:54. I went through halfway (1:57:30) on course for a 3:55:00 and also recorded a PB through 30 of 2:20:43.”
He started picking up muscle cramps with 17km to go and it was time to grit his teeth. “At 38km, I had exactly 1hr 5sec in which to do the last 12km (5min/km ave). But I recorded consistent laps for the last 10km. I had to dig really deep for the final kilometres, trusting in my support team, training and my mental willingness to embrace the pain and to take my body to a new level of discomfort, whilst many athletes were suffering around me. This was my only chance!”
Mundell had previously walked a B standard on debut in 2009 in Zittau Germany (4:04:42) which, although a new national record, wasn’t not considered good enough for participation at the 2009 World Champs in Berlin.
Our walkers didn’t fare as well in the 20km walk held the previous day. They ended 20th in the team stakes with Lebogang Shange best of the five participants and finishing 77th in 1:30:05, with the winner being Zheng Wang of China in 1:19:13. The other Team SA walkers were: Thami Hlatshwayo (82nd, Wayne Snyman (89th), Pierre de Villiers (93rd) and Armond Nel (96th).