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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I'm going to bounce back stronger' - Rutendo Nyahora on motherhood, running and the Olympic Games

This time last week while many of us were celebrating Mother's Day, one mother was running for her life. Rutendo Nyahora, a mother of two and professional athlete took part in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K where she took ninth place. That her 35:13 clocking in The Mother City on that day was more than two minutes off 32:55 personal best set back in 2012, is in indicator of just how much the 33-year-old has had to fight to get back into shape after giving birth to her second child in 2021. Nyahora admits that it is not easy to train full-time while raising a toddler.

Nyahora at Rio 2016 where she completed the marathon in 2:47:32. She wants to represent Zimbabwe once again at next year's Olympic Games in Paris. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"I'm enjoying both," she told #TheTopRunner. "But I must say that it was not easy after I first gave birth. I have a daughter but I didn't raise her - she was raised by my mom. So now I have a son and it was not easy because I have to train while looking after my son. I remember when he was young I used to cry because it was too much. Remember after giving birth, I was trying to lose weight and then this one is not sleeping at night, while I have to go out for training in the morning. It is not easy, but those things made me very strong. It shows me that I am a mom. And he's two years old now so I have less stress because I'm getting used to it."

In the last two years, the 33-year-old has slowly started returning to the form that saw her represent Zimbabwe at the 2016 Olympic Games over the marathon. Nyahora ran 2:39:58 to qualify for #Rio2016 and then improved on that personal best when she clocked 2:34:49 in 2019, which remains her lifetime best. But last month the Hollywood Athletics Club top runner produced 2:36:07 at the Vienna City Marathon which was the second fastest marathon time of her career. That has left her confident that she will soon run the fastest marathon of her 15-year career.

Nyahora in the colours of Hollywood Athletics Club on her way to wining the 21km at the MiWay Wally Hayward Marathon on 1 May, 2023 in a time of 1:20:50. Photo Credit: Wally Hayward Marathon.

"I know that I am going to bounce back stronger. It only takes time. I feel like I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm happy especially with the help from my coach. Coach Lindsay Parry is the best coach ever because he is always patient with me. I know that I'm going to be on top. I want to run fast times, especially for the marathon. If I see myself running a marathon under 2:30 I'll be so happy because I'll have fulfilled what I want. And I want to qualify for the next Olympics," she shared.

And in order to book her spot in the Zimbabwe Olympic team for #Paris2024 Nyahora will be relying on the support of a fellow mother and running sister. Last month Nyahora and Nobuhle Tshuma of Entsika Athletic Club captured public imagination when a photo was snapped of the former supporting the latter on the way to winning the North West N12 Ultra 50km while carrying Tshuma's son on her back. It has become an iconic photo of sporting mothers. Nyahora says Tshuma is like a sister to her.

Nyahora supporting Tshuma during the North West N12 Ultra Marathon 50km which she won in 3:16:26. Photo Credit: Givemore Mudziganyama.

"The baby that I was carrying is my son, so I was there supporting Buhle and my husband (Sbusiso Nzima) as well because he was also running. So when I tried to leave him in the car, he was crying. I said to myself because I am an African woman let me put him on my back so that I can support my sister. I didn't even see that Buhle's husband (Givemore Mudziganyama) was taking the photo. People love that photo because of the support I was giving her with 12kg on my back. We support each other. Last year I almost gave up at the Soweto Marathon but when she came she pushed me until 35km. She has been supporting me especially on my comeback,' she said.

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