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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Mundell overjoyed to be a 3-time Olympian & aiming for top 10 finish in Tokyo

South African walking star Marc Mundell is hoping to make his last mark in the country's colours at the upcoming rescheduled Olympic games in Japan. Mundell who has already represented the country on the biggest international stage, qualified for #Tokyo2021 based on his world ranking after narrowly missing out on automatic qualification.

In March, Mundell produced a world class performance of 3:53:09 to set a new African and South African 50km race walk record at the World Athletics Dudince 50 Race Walking Permit race in Slovakia, which pushed him up the world rankings to eventually book his spot on the plane to The Land of The Rising Sun. And he can't wait to make a third Olympic appearance after being part of the team in both 2012 and 2016.

Mundell has represented at the African Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. He says this will be his last Olympics. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"This is a very special moment for me to be selected to represent SA at my third Olympic Games," said elated lanky walker. "I was overwhelmed by the moment. I was reminiscing on the intense struggle that qualification was due to Covid, limited sanctioned events, and the exorbitant costs of getting to events. Looking back, I set an African record to qualify for London. I did so again to qualify for Rio. I am really satisfied that I delivered the very best performance (and new African/national record) of my career to qualify for Tokyo," he told #TheTopRunner.

The Pietermaritzburg-born athlete also revealed the pressure he was under to be part of the Olympic team because he only had one opportunity to qualify. "Yes it was a wonderful year, filled with self doubt and uncertainty. I had once chance available to me to qualify, in Dudince Slovakia. So I placed all my eggs in one basket and went all-in on preparing for one great race. To put this into perspective, I raced only once in 2020 - 20km PB in Dublin. And I have only raced once in 2021 - 50km PB in Slovakia." explains the man holds a Sports Science Masters from the University of Pretoria.

Despite shortage of races Mundell was able to do the unthinkable and says the support of his wife and his coach Jamie Costin all contributed to his success.

Mundell says 2021 will be his last Olympics and his hopeful of opportunities to work as a coach in future. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"The recipe has been the unwavering confidence and support from my long-time Irish coach Jamie Costin, who is himself a three-time Olympian. The training recipe has been to focus on preparing for only one crucial race and making the sacrifices to get that to work, This would not be possible without the support of Joanna Mundell, my wife, and our newest little addition. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I will be among the 60 best athletes on the start line on 6 August." he said.

The 37-year-old Canadian based athlete is aiming for a top ten finish in his last Olympics even though he knows that won't come easy. "I am convinced that this will be my final Olympics," he shared.

"Perhaps other opportunities will become available for coaching or working behind the scenes in future. With the World Athletics changing the distance to 35km, this will also be my final 50km event. I am very realistic about my expectations for the games and I am preparing as well as I possibly can out of my own pocket. Until last year, I would joke that I am spending my unborn kid's inheritance. That is no longer the case and I need to remain mindful of that going forward. Although I would love to believe that a medal is possible, I am a realist and I know that I only qualified for The Games on ranking. I would love to improve on my 28th position in London and end closer to the Top 10. I am in my final 5 weeks of preparations and I am feeling very confident of my current shape and seasonal progression," he concluded.

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