Successive Helsinki Marathon Triumphs Spark Mbacha Eric’s Olympic-games Ambitions
Mbacha Eric who is fleeing the socio-political crisis rocking Anglophone Cameroon has won the Helsinki downtown 42-km marathon for the second time in a row.
Helsinki Marathon, one of the biggest running events in Finland was held on Saturday 21 August 2021.
Mbacha finished five minutes ahead of Finish duo Oscar Holmström and Bartosz Olszewski.
“I feel very happy though I only beat my past record for 40 seconds. I am still happy I finished first for the second consecutive time,” Mbacha rejoiced.
His plan to pull a much more superlative performance did not work as downpours marred race day.
“I had prepared very well to run this race in 2 hours 18 minutes. But 10 kilometers to the finish line there was heavy rainfall. I could not increase my strides again,” Mbacha told Volcanicsport.
The 37-year-old registered with Yleisurheilu PORI athletic club did the race in exactly 2 hours 24 minutes.
“This time around,” he said, “I didn’t encounter difficulties since it’s a track that I already know. I prepared very well.”
“It is rather unfortunate that all the competitions I prepared this year were cancelled due to Covid-19.”
The three-time winner of the Mount race sneaked out of Cameroon in 2019, following death threats by separatists seeking to break away from the French majority of his country.
The father of three, together with other athletes originating from the two English-speaking regions had been “banned” by fighters from taking part in any government-backed event.
The renowned mountaineer was forced to give up defending his 2019 Mount Cameroon Race of Hope title, to seek refuge in Finland.
Though known as an experienced hiker of the highest mountain in West Africa, Helsinki has offered Mbacha the chance to relaunch marathon-running, his real thing.
“Now here I have all the facilities, the time to do that. I just need to concentrate and everything will be fine,” Mbacha.
A second successive victory in foreign land inspires Mbacha Eric to dream bigger.
“This is the joy of every athlete seeing himself taking part in international competitions like Olympic Games. I need to start preparing for the minimal of qualifiers for the next Olympic Games in 2024 in France. I should at least represent Cameroon in 10,000 metres, 5,000 metres and in marathon.”
Miles away, the devoted athlete has not forgotten home and his plans to give back to his community and Cameroon in general.
“I am struggling to get enough sport equipment to send home to my younger ones, so that they can train easily.”
“I desire to make an international athletic track in Mbot village, my hometown. This will enable the youngsters back home to train there and come out with good results. Those I will train must pass my level.”
“The other time I was discussing with the President of the Cameroon Athletic Federation. I really wish to send some special prizes for the forthcoming Mount Cameroon Race of Hope; the junior and veteran categories.”
Away from athletics, the Mbot native works with Valmet Automotive EV power plant battery department. They are specialized in producing electric battery for Mercedes Benz cars.
Mbacha now counts 54 trophies and 63 medals in his cabinet.