Ndhlovu Qualifies for 2016 Olympics in Rio
By Catherine George, Assistant Sports Editor
UNCP alumnus and former decorated cross country and track and field runner Pardon Ndhlovu’s extreme dedication has motivated him to the top.
On Jan. 8, Ndhlovu won the Chevron Houston Marathon with a time of 2:16:51 to receive an Olympic qualifying time for his native country of Zimbabwe.
Ndhlovu earned a place in the Rio 2016 Olympics and is now an idol to his native country. He uses this to his advantage to do well by collecting and sending shoes to his home country to runners who were running shoeless, like he did once before.
Ndhlovu also acts as an advocate for other student athletes looking to come over to the states to advance their careers not only athletically but also academically.
Starting to run in primary school, Ndhlovu’s father, Peter, was the person who initially got him and his twin brother Pardington into the sport.
When at UNCP, the Zimbabwean native took the spotlight early on as a freshman in 2009.
From there, his career skyrocketed.
Ndhlovu was the lead runner of the cross-country pack all four years, USTFCCA Male Athlete of the year for the Southeast region, and one of the most ornamented student-athletes in the history of UNCP.
He not only set the pace on the track, but in the classroom as well by being a four-time NCAA All-American while also being named USTFCCCA all-academic team twice.
“Pardon's character showed in everything he did and how he treated people. Even if he didn't know them.”
Matt Reith, a former teammate, focused on Ndhlovu’s character and how he is such a kind, honest and humble person. Even when he was expected to win he would leave that out of conversation. He always made it a point to give credit to his opponent and to never look past someone.
“He never brought up his many accolades and always treated the competitors with respect for the work they put in. Anytime I speak with him now, I always get a big smile on my face because that's what Pardon will do to you,” Reith said. “Watching Pardon workout was some of the greatest displays of dedication and discipline I've ever seen. He wouldn't cut any run short and always worked unbelievably hard. His work ethic is incredible.”
“Holding on to a dream bigger than myself has motivated me to wake up and run every morning,” Ndhlovu said.
Throughout his journey, the Olympian has met many significant characters that have helped guide him to where he is now.
“My parents instilled a hard work ethic in me. My college coach guided me and laid a foundation for my running success. Jeff Bolles has been a great mentor to me. Ivy and OT Johnson are still great supporters of my career,” he said. “My team at Pembroke and the whole athletic department played a part in my success. Even today, here at GRU I have a lot of people that play a big role in my everyday success.”
He added that his girlfriend’s Keara Robinson’s “desire to be successful” helps him stay motivated to do well in everything he does.
On top of being an elite athlete, he is now “an ambassador for a social enterprise called Janji that helps provide clean water to people that do not have access to water in the world,” Ndhlovu said.
Ever since 2012, Ndhlovu’s goal has been to be able to participate in the Olympics and now his dream is in his grasp.
“I think I have embraced the fact that I will be an Olympian one day because I have the ability to do it,” he said.
The UNCP alumnus currently holds a position as assistant coach for the GRU Augusta cross-country team.
This is his second year, and he plans on running as long as he possibly can.
Photo courtesy of UNCP Sports Information. Pardon Ndhlovu runs for UNCP at a meet during his college career.