Trinidad and Tobago’s Tonya Nero will be on the streets of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, tomorrow night (TT time), bidding for an Olympic berth. Nero is among thousands of runners entered in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, and will set off on her 26.2-mile journey at 10.30 p.m.
The women’s field is loaded with talent, including Ethiopian stars Tirfi Tsegaye, Meselech Melkamu and Mulu Seboka. Nero, however, will be focused on the clock, and not on the world-beating Africans who have travelled to Dubai for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label Road Race. The 27-year-old T&T distance runner will try to beat the Olympic qualifying time of two hours, 45 minutes.
Four years ago, Nero came agonisingly close to qualification for the 2012 Olympic Games when she clocked two hours, 43 minutes, 14 seconds—a new national record—at the ABN AMRO Marathon Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. The run was just 14 seconds outside the 2:43:00 Olympic standard. This time, the required time is a couple minutes slower, and Nero would fancy her chances of earning a spot on the T&T team for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In a Facebook post earlier this week, Nero’s club, Bankers Insurance Athletics Central expressed its support for the Maracas Valley athlete in her bid to become the first female marathoner to represent T&T at the Olympics.
“It will be no easy mission and we wish her good luck, best wishes and God Speed. Let’s pray for her success and safe return.”
During the race, members of the Port of Spain Church of Christ will gather at the home of evangelist Tony Millet to support their sister in Christ, in prayer, every stride of the way.