For much of her career, Maria Mutola towered over the women’s 800m race like a colossus.
Although an Olympic gold eluded her till her fourth attempt, she set new benchmarks in consistency, winning 10 world titles. In Bangalore as event ambassador of Sunday’s TCS World 10K, Mutola spoke to the media.
Taking part in six Olympics
I was one of the luckiest athletes in that I’ve stayed injury free. I ran for almost 20 years. My coach (Margo Jennings) was very careful in how we trained and approached races.
I was the first athlete from Mozambique to win any World Championship or Olympic medal (silver in 1992 and gold in 2000). The people back home supported me and wanted me to run; they were disappointed if I wasn’t there. That motivated me for so long.
Coaching Caster Semenya
It’s not easy for her to stay not running for almost one year and come back. She was doing 1:55 and when she came back she found it difficult to break even two minutes. But she trained harder. Her goal was to win gold in the Olympics. In the London Games (Semenya finished with the silver in the 800m) tactically things didn’t go exactly as we had planned. But she’s still only 22.
Tactics of the 800m
You have to break two minutes before anything else. Sometimes, the first lap takes care of itself. When it comes to the second lap is when there’s a problem.
Everybody has to be awake and you make sure you win the last 100m. For me, the finish was the strong point.
It’s disappointing to find out later, like in the case of Marion Jones and Lance Armstrong — all these people you support with your heart, thinking they are clean and doing a good job, only to see a big scandal later.