Johannesburg – Hendrick Ramaala will be appearing in his sixth IAAF World Championships when he represents South Africa in the marathon in Moscow in a fortnight's time.
“I may be 41 officially, but I still feel as if I am 20,” Ramaala said on Friday.
“It's probably the young athletes I am coaching who help me to stay young at heart and passionate about running.”
He made his debut at the 1995 Gothenburg showpiece where he finished 17th in the 10 000m.
Achieving his best result at the World Championships in Paris in 2003, he finished ninth in two hours, ten minutes and 37 seconds (2:10:37).
The last time the 2004 winner of the New York Marathon competed at a world championship was in 2007 in Osaka, Japan.
“I qualified in 2009 but was not selected,” said Ramaala, whose best marathon time is 2:06:55.
Ramaala booked his place for Moscow when he completed the 2012 Dubai Marathon in a qualifying time of 2:12.12.
He was quick to point out his chances of winning a medal at the Championships were slim.
“I am capable of getting a top-ten finish, but if the race should develop into a tactical battle, during which everybody runs at a slower pace, matters could become interesting.
“In my opinion Lusapho April has a real chance to win a medal, whereas Sibusiso Mzima is the novice.”
Ramaala considered Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede as the race favourite but was still relishing the challenge ahead of him.
“I was fortunate to be able to make a living from marathon running,” he said.
“I sincerely hope that our youngsters will also be able to do so, but nowadays it is tough. The guys run times of 2 hours 4 minutes to 2 hours 5 minutes, which makes it difficult to successfully break into international marathon running.
“I had the advantage that I could base myself in Europe, which enabled me to race against the best while I was still young.” – Sapa