Groundsman who turned into top athlete

HARARE - Olympian Mike Fokorani’s rise from a mine groundsman to a respected long-distance runner is the stuff dreams are made of.

His tale began as a part-time groundsman at Bindura’s Trojan Nickel Mine over a decade ago with the art of long distance running only an ambition.

But his road to fame would truly begin after he enlisted the coaching expertise of legendary sprinter Artwell Mandaza.

At that time, Mandaza doubled up as an administrative officer and coach for the mine’s athletics club.

Fokorani’s life-changing moment finally came in 2006 when he ventured into South Africa to compete in the Soweto Marathon.

Spurred by the desire for to better his life, Fokorani attained a commendable eighth place finish which turned out to be the beginning of a roller coaster career.

In 2007, Fokorani finished 16th at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan, finishing that marathon 2:21:52.

The veteran long-distance runner would go on to post his personal best time of 2:13:17 hours, achieved against some of the finest long distance runners at the Beijing Olympics where he placed 11th.

The Mount Darwin-raised athlete, however, thought his career had come to an end after suffering a foot injury in 2009, a period which still evokes sad memories for the athlete.

“The injury really took its toll on me. My preparation did not go off well for me. I thought maybe my life was over,” Fokorani recalls.

“During that time of 2009 to 2011, I reckon I was now at the peak of my career, but that is how life is sometimes.”

The unassuming long striding athlete overcame that obstacle, going on to amass an impressive array of accolades.

Fokorani has participated in a number of marathons all over the world in countries including North Korea, Japan, South Africa and China among others.

At 38, he is not showing signs of slowing down.

It thus came as no surprise when he finished eighth at the Comrades Marathon in 2013.

In finishing eighth, Fokorani outperformed a list of Zimbabwean athletes, among them Stephen Muzhingi and Moses Njodzi, who were favourites ahead of the 87km race.

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