Mumbai: Three-time World Champion and Olympic Champion in Sydney 2000, Maria Mutola, often ranked as the greatest female 800 m runner of all time, has been confirmed as the Event Ambassador for the TCS World10K Bangalore 2013, a release from event promoters Procam International said on Tuesday.
Maria will join a long and illustrious list of sporting icons and legends that have been brought down by Procam International across three of their long distance events, held in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Maria will be in Bangalore in the days leading up to the event and meet and interact with the participants, the media as well as the sponsors and partners of the event.
The TCS World 10K Bangalore 2011 had reigning Olympic Marathon champion Constantina Dita as the event ambassador, while 2012 saw the arrival of sprinting great Linford Christie. David Rudisha, who set an 800m World Record at the London Olympics, was the event ambassador of the Delhi Half Marathon in 2012, while ‘King’ Haile Gebrselassie uplifted the 2013 Mumbai Marathon with his presence.
Maria Mutola’s consistency, her record at major championships and her ability to compete at the highest levels of the sport for well over a decade are unmatched. She is the fourth track & field athlete to compete at six Olympic Games.
Maria won the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics in 1997 only weeks after her father had been killed in a car accident. She raced wearing a black ribbon and dedicated the victory to his memory. In total she has won nine world 800 m titles, including both indoor and outdoor championships. She won the Commonwealth Games twice and has also won the IAAF World Cupevent, representing the Africa team, four times consecutively.
Maria’s greatest moment, though, came at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, when she finally won Olympic gold. She beat her major rival Stephanie Graf and Kelly Holmes.
She continued her successes in the 2001 season, grabbing the world title in Edmonton and again in 2003 in Paris. Mutola was unbeaten throughout 2003 and grabbed the headlines again that year, at the Memorial van Damme race in Belgium. By winning here, it meant that she became sole winner of the IAAF one million dollar jackpot, awarded to athletes who remained undefeated during the IAAF Golden League series of competitions. She put part of her winnings towards the foundation that she had established in her name in Mozambique.
Aiming to become the first woman to successfully defend the Olympic 800 m title in 2004, her fifth Olympics, Mutola ended up finishing fourth, and out of the medals. In 2005 her injuries were still lingering and she suffered several losses to opponents she would normally easily beat. She parted amicably with her coach Margo Jennings, before returning to good form in 2006, when she won the World Indoor title for a record seventh time.
Mutola had decided that the 2008 Olympic Games would be her last major championships, and she finished fifth. She publicly called an end to her 21-year long athletics career at the Weltklasse Zurichmeeting immediately after the Olympics.
After retiring from athletics she returned to her first sporting love, football. She played for Mamelodi Sundowns team in the South African women’s league. In 2011 she was captain of the Mozambique national soccer team at the All-Africa Games in Maputo.
In 2012 she coached South African runner Caster Semenya to a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London.
“It’s an honour to be invited as Event Ambassador for the TCS World 10K Bangalore, the world’s premier 10K run. India is fast emerging as one of the leading long distance running destinations of the world and I am looking forward to interacting with running enthusiasts in Bangalore. I hope my visit helps in some way to inspire young, budding athletes to work harder and achieve glory” said Mutola in her message.