Lusapho April – going to Rio to try medal
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: We continue our build-up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games here on Old Mutual Live. We’re joined by a man who is an Olympian, he raced in London in 2012, things didn’t go according to plan. I’m sure he’s hoping for a much better performance in Rio 2016. He’s one of three South African men to represent our country at the marathon. It’s a great pleasure to touch base once again with Lusapho April. Lusapho, welcome, nice to chat again.
Lusapho April: Thanks for having me Brad.
BB: Lusapho, you must be getting pretty excited now, this is the final run-in, if you’d like, towards Rio 2016. The Olympic cycles are generally quite long; can you believe the time is now? It’s crunch time, whatever you do now over the next few weeks is directly going to impact your performance in Rio.
Heading to Rio with more experience
LA: Yeah, it’s a four-year cycle, so I’m pretty excited and looking forward to my second Olympics. Hopefully this time around everything is going to go according to plan. In terms of preparation and health-wise, I’m injury free and healthy and putting in some mileage on my legs. So that come race day I give everything of my best.
I believe I’m standing a good chance of getting a medal because I’ve gained a lot of experience running internationally for the past nine or so years. For the past four years we’ve been running in the States because there are no pace makers. So in mind we were thinking about Rio Olympic games because it’s going to be sort of like championship races where there are no pace makers.
BB: You talk about the pace makers and it’s an interesting point you make. I think as an average runner we don’t really understand what a difference that makes. You say it’s like a championship race, there are no pace makers. At the end of the day, you’ve got to run. It’s not necessarily a time that you’re chasing, you’re chasing a win or a medal, that’s what you’re chasing. Yes, you might have a time goal in mind, but that’s not, at the end of the day, what you’re chasing.
LA: For sure, with the Olympics, it’s not about the time, it’s about the medal, that’s what counts the most. With times, they can be broken. But as a champion, everyone would know, 2016, Rio Olympics, the Champion was Lusapho April, forever.
BB: Lusapho, looking at the last four years in the build-up to this Olympic Games, have you done things differently? Or has it been pretty much similar to what you did ahead of London 2012?
LA: It’s more or less the same cause we stick to what’s been working for us. But there is a bit of changes here and there, but it’s not like major changes. We know it’s working what we’re doing, so we might as well just stick to it.
Hanover Marathon domination
BB: You talk about racing overseas and having raced a lot in the States, you’ve also raced in Hanover quite a bit, won your third one recently. That’s a course you must love and a race you really enjoy going back to? You’ve got good memories in Hanover?
LA: For sure, Hanover is like a second home for me. Being the first male to have won it three times, in the history of an event. So like I say, it’s actually meant for me and for everyone that’s involved with me. You know, Hanover, it’s like I know the course now, like the back of my hand.
BB: Talking about knowing the course, how much do you know about the marathon course in Rio?
LA: I don’t really know that much, but I know it’s going to be a 10km lap course. But I’ve seen the US trials, so I kind of have an idea of what to look for. The conditions as well, it’s going to be hot, but I’m preparing under those conditions. So surely I believe, come race day, I’ll be bullet proof, ready for anything, coming my way.
BB: You talk about the 10km lap, does that make a difference to you? Do you prefer one loop courses or does it not really matter to you Lusapho?
LA: No, it doesn’t really matter to me Brad, it’s what you need to use cause it’s what they’re giving to you. Once you’ve got a problem with it, that’s one obstacle that’s staying on you. So you’re not going to deliver everything cause you’re complaining already, that you’re running the laps instead of running the full 42km.
20 years on from Josia Thugwane’s win
BB: Looking at winning the Olympic Gold in the marathon, South Africa has had success before, I think back to 1996 with Josia Thugwane. Where no one really expected us to win a Gold. It was a fantastic performance from Josia. Does thinking back, I know it’s a long time ago, it’s 20 years essentially this year, does that inspire you? Give you hope and belief that we could possibly do it again?
LA: For sure, I believe that it’s possible and it’s doable. You know, the good thing about the Olympics, it’s like it’s only three, the country. Like the Kenyans and Ethiopians, the powerhouse of athletics, when it comes to these marathons.
Looking at the Kenyan team, I’ve already beaten two of the three guys that are already in the team. So that gives me a confidence boost from it, to know that I can. Like if I go and stand on the line knowing very well I’ve done the work and I’m healthy and injury free. Then I will give it a go and I believe in my potential that I’m good enough to beat anyone any given day.
Final preparations before Rio
BB: I love that, that’s phenomenal confidence and it does make a big difference. You talk about only three per country; it will make a big difference on race day and we can’t wait to watch this one. Your final run in to Rio 2016, you’ve decided to base yourself here in South Africa for your final bit of training in East London. You’ve got one big race left to sharpen up and that’s in Port Elizabeth. Tell us a bit about what you’ve got planned between now and Rio to get you race ready come the marathon at the Games?
LA: The first thing is to stay healthy, rest and put in the work. Then just like sharpening up with the race, to give a confidence boost. Knowing that you’ve done the work. Then do well at the SA half, and then take it from there. With three weeks to go, because the tapering has already starting and then hopefully everything goes well on race day.
BB: Lusapho, Olympic Games, it’s the pinnacle of, I think any sportsman’s career, they don’t come around often. The opportunity to represent your country at that level is pretty incredible and you get to go to some cool sporting events.
I think about your performance in New York where you finished third, but that’s a stand-alone running event. It must be nice to be involved in a massive event like this where it’s not just athletics or just running. It’s all the sporting codes. Tell me a little bit about what it means to you to be an Olympian?
LA: It means a lot, but you must remember Brad, you’re running on the last day. So we don’t get to enjoy, like the Olympic Games. Because you’re running on the last day and then after the race you’re already tired and then you don’t feel like doing anything. Hopefully this year, this time around, I hope that I’m going to do well, or the belief that I’m going to do well. I’ll be able to even go and enjoy myself at the closing ceremony when I go and collect my medal.
BB: That would be amazing. Lusapho April, I want to wish you all the best, if we don’t chat before the Games, good luck for the rest of the preparation. We can’t wait to see you race on race day and fly that South African flag proudly.
LA: Thank you very much Brad.