April plans to run New York one last time before retiring to focus on his academy
South African long-distance star Lusapho April is planning to make an unlikely come back as he aims to run the New York Marathon later this year. April who has finished on the podium in The Big Apple, has become somewhat of a forgotten man on the running scene. He last raced a marathon in 2019, when he failed to finish the Cape Town Marathon. But the 38-year-old athlete is preparing to make a third appearance on the streets of Central Park on 7 November.
The race through the five boroughs invokes golden memories in many South Africans because running legends Willie Mtolo and Hendrik Ramaala both claimed top honours in 1992 and 2004 respectively. And April nearly came close in 2013 when he finished 3rd and on his second attempt, he came 11th in 2014.
The man from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape last ran an international marathon in 2018 - The Boston Marathon. Many believed it may have been the last overseas race for a man nearing 40 years of age. But April, who has a personal best of 2:08:32 in marathon distance achieved in 2013, revealed his intentions to run his beloved New York again and says he has already been communicating with the organisers.
" I'm planning to run the New York Marathon later this year," said Adidas endorsed athlete. "It's one of the two big races I'm planning to run before I call it quits. I have been in running for over 20 years and I think it's good I turn the focus to other things. I'll run the SA half marathon championship this year with the hope of getting a good time and I'll submit those times to the organisers as we already speaking about going back there," he said.
The 3-time Hannover Marathon winner and record holder has started to prepare for life after athletics. He opened an academy in 2020 (The Lusapho April Multisport Development) to nurture future sports champions and plans to approach sponsors to assist with what has been to date a self-funded project. "I started to give back to the community last year, " explains two times Two Oceans Half Marathon winner.
"So far, our focus is on all sports codes. Some people deal with Rugby, Football etc. I focus on what I know best which is running. I got 10 athletes I'm currently training, five boys and five girls. I'm focusing on young people as no one is over 15 years old. I'm currently self-funding the project and have already spoken to a few people to assist the athletes with running shoes. Adidas said I must submit a written proposal to finalise things. My goal is to see one of my athletes representing the country one day," said April.
As the CoronaVirus swept around the world leading to the cancellation of races, elite athletes have seen their incomes wiped out. But the South African 25km record holder is in good financial shape because he is still reaping rewards of the investments he made early on in his career. He applauds his management team for giving him good advice.
"I made the good money investments early and that has helped me for quite some time," said April, who was part of the SA Olympic squad in 2012 and 2016. "I'm not into any business but I was lucky enough to have management that managed to give me good money education. Since Covid19 started, I would be lying if I could say I'm affected. I'm still reaping the rewards of my early savings," he shared.