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  • Writer's picturePhumlani Nkosi

'This can only be God' - Nyahora upbeat about second Olympic appearance at #Paris2024

Zimbabwean long-distance runner Rutendo Nyahora is excited about the second half of the 2024 season, as she gears up for the 2024 Paris Olympics and her beloved SPAR Women’s Challenge in Jozi. Nyahora, who first competed in the Olympics at Rio 2016, has become a prominent figure in local athletics thanks to an impressive list of achievements and her admirable longevity.

Now 35 years old, Nyahora secured her spot in the Paris Olympics through the universality place, after missing out on automatic qualification. The Universality method allows athletes from underrepresented countries to participate in The Games, and Nyahora earned the spot thanks to the 2:34:29 she ran at the Hanover Marathon in April to finish as the fastest female Zimbabwean marathoner during the Olympic qualification period. Nyahora says after the disappointment of failing to go beyond the automatic qualification standard of 2:26:50 she thought her Olympic dream was over but God had other plans.

Nyahora in action at #Rio2016 where she completed the marathon in 2:47:32 for 92nd position. Photo Credit: Supplied.

“This can only be God,” she said after securing her second Olympic appearance. “The tears I shed during my last marathon, God has finally wiped away. He turned my tears into tears of joy. He turned my dreams into reality. I’m honoured to represent my country again. My pride for my country should not come after my country becomes great my country becomes great because of my pride in it. Proudly Zimbabwean, Proudly African,” said the woman who set a 2:32:00 marathon personal best at the Frankfurt Marathon last October.

As was the case eight years ago, the Hollywood Athletic Club top runner goes into the biggest sports show on earth not long after giving birth. In 2016 she had just birthed her first child and once again, she approaches the 2024 Olympics having recently welcomed another child. The mother of two believes that the demands of balancing life as a professional athlete with motherhood has made her a better athlete.

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. She used the race as part of the training that saw her run a 2:32:00 marathon to finish as the fastest Zimbabwean woman during the Olympic Qualification period. Photo Credit: Wally Hayward Marathon.

"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 older now so I have less stress because I'm getting used to it."

After the Paris Olympics, Nyahora will turn her focus to the Johannesburg leg of the SPAR Women’s Challenge which takes place on on 6 October. The SPAR 10km races have been particularly meaningful to Nyahora, as it they provided her with significant opportunities to earn money throughout her career. Notably, it has helped her build a home for her parents, which is why the series remains close to her heart.

Nyahora poses with fellow Olympians Cian Oldknow and Rene Kalmer as well as Paralympian Louzanne Coetzee at the launch of the SPAR Women's Challenge Jozi. Photo Credit: Reg Caldecott.

"SPAR recognises the transformative power of sport to inspire and empower women," says Mpudi Maubane, SPAR PR, Communications and Sponsorship Manager. "We believe in creating opportunities for women to participate in physical activity, challenge themselves, and achieve their goals. Our involvement in women's road running, including the SPAR Grand Prix Series, perfectly aligns with our sponsorship pillars: Nutrition, Education, and Women Empowerment. It celebrates women's health, fitness, and community spirit." 

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