With all roads leading to Rio, world champion Chad Ho will take his first big leap of the season when he chases a seventh straight Midmar Mile title tomorrow.
The 25-year-old open water swimmer admitted yesterday the Olympics was at the back of his mind, but he was not getting ahead of himself. “There are a lot of stepping stones, and Midmar is another step in the right direction,” Ho said.
“If I win it’ll be a confidence boost because it’ll show my training is going well.”
Ho competed in the men’s 10km marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finishing ninth at the age of 18, but did not qualify for the 2012 London Games. Last season he made a statement by winning the 5km gold medal at the Fina World Championships in Kazan. He went on to finish 19th in the 10km event.
Despite the 5km distance not being contested at the Olympics, Ho was confident he could put up a fight in the longer race, provided he was included in the 25-man field.
Having finished third at a Rio test event in December, he had one more chance to book his place for the Games by finishing in the top nine at a qualifying event in Setubal, Portugal in June.
Though the top African swimmer would also be invited, according to international criteria, he could not take this route due to SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) selection policies.
“The 10km didn’t go as well as planned last year,” he said. “But I’m taking it one step at a time and hoping it goes better if I get to Rio.” The 43rd edition of the Midmar Mile starts near Howick today with age groups and other category races. The elite men’s and women’s events will be held tomorrow.