Against All Odds - Tokyo Olympic Qualifier Goes Ahead in Cape Town!
Photo Cred: Tokyo Olympics

Final opportunity for African runners to qualify for the Tokyo Marathon!


Cape Town, South Africa (10 May 2021) – Africans aspiring to race in the 2021 Tokyo Marathon have one final opportunity to qualify on 30 May 2021, in a special qualifying race that will see already-qualified elite athletes partake to set the pace around the world-class course in Cape Town – all aimed at giving African hopefuls the best chance of qualification.

Under normal circumstances, African runners have very few opportunities to qualify for an Olympic Marathon. The Covid-19 pandemic reduced the odds even further, with Tokyo Olympic qualification races being cancelled across the globe, compounded by travel restrictions and sponsorship budgets drying up as a result of the economic fallout.

Other regions have had to take extraordinary measures for athletes in those regions to qualify, including the UK, Italy, Denmark and the US. South Africa’s Gerda Steyn set a South African marathon record of 2:25:28 in her qualifying run at the Xiamen Marathon in Siena, Italy. Irvette van Zyl qualified in the same event with a time of 2:28:40.

The Africans who have already achieved Olympic qualification have had to travel abroad, but there was a desperate need for an Olympic qualifying event on African soil, for the host of elite-level runners based on these shores who would like to test their mettle and get to the Olympics – which could be a life-changing event.

Through passion and commitment to the development and celebration of African talent, Chris Bruwer, who is one of Elana Meyer’s former coaches during the late ’80s, his small team from Langa Running Club, Western Province Athletics President Jakes Jacobs, and sponsor Retail Capital have worked together Against All Odds, to ensure that an Olympic Marathon qualifying event goes ahead on 30 May 2021.

Against All Odds - Tokyo Olympic Qualifier Goes Ahead in Cape Town!
Photo Cred: Stephen Granger

The Retail Capital Langa Marathon Challenge takes place at the Killarney International Raceway, at a course that has been certified by World Athletics and is the perfect opportunity for local and African talent to attain qualification before the cut-off. There is an abundance of talent on this continent, and with the qualifying time for women set at 2:29:30 and for men set at 2:11:30, the event organisers call on elite-level runners and running clubs to partake and attempt to give Africa a fair showing at the Olympics.

Retail Capital CEO Karl Westvig says he is delighted the team was able to make this dream a reality.

“Our vision as a business is to support small businesses to succeed against the odds, and so to be part of a club aiming to support African athletes to strive for Olympic qualification against the odds was an easy fit. We wish all the athletes the best of luck.”

Local Organising Committee Chairman Aubrey Isaacs says: “We are delighted that commitment to African athletics has seen this group of people come together and ensure that our continent’s athletes have an opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Games. The pandemic has been exceptionally challenging, and this is very good news during a difficult period.”

The route is fast, safe and reasonably sheltered, with walls and stadium seating all around the race track. By pure chance, the average weather, researched over the last 10 years, is probably the most favourable of anywhere in the world for fast times. The surface is tarred, and the corners are gentle, with some of them slightly embanked.

To make matters even more exciting, top runners will be taking part and will set a challenging pace for the hopefuls. These include Elroy Galant, who has already qualified. One runner looking to add her name to the African qualifier’s list is Zimbabwean runner Fortunate Chidzivo.

Chidzivo is the Zimbabwean record holder over 10km, 20km and 21,1km distances. Three years ago, she was about to give up running but then met coach Bruwer. At the time, she could not break 80 minutes over 21,1km nor 35 minutes over 10km. In 2019 she broke the 10km course record at the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in a time of 32 minutes and 26 seconds, a new Zimbabwe record. In October 2020, she managed to overcome great challenges and competed in the World Championships in Poland. She finished 27th with a new Zimbabwean record of 70 minutes and 50 seconds.

Against All Odds, Chidzivo will race on 30 May to qualify for the Olympics. She will be joined by equally passionate and talented African athletes from around the continent who have one final chance to qualify for the race of a lifetime.

Applications are still open for a maximum of 15 to 20 additional Olympic hopefuls to join in the star-studded line-up, which already includes elite runners from the Boxer Athletics Club, Murray & Roberts Club, Maxed Elite Club, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and several others from the rest of Africa and a few European countries currently applying. Only 50 runners, including the pacers, will be allowed to enter.

Entries close on Friday 21 May 2021, and only runners that have been issued with invitational letters will be allowed to enter. Applications can be sent to Chris Bruwer at, or he can be contacted on 071 779 0650.

Sources: Langa 
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