Erdelyi And Kefalas Compete In 2012 Olympic Marathon
Aug. 16, 2012
USC pulled off an impressive double as two former cross country runners Zsofia Erdelyi of Hungary and Tina Kefalas of Greece competed in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics on Aug. 5. No other university had more than one person running in that event.
The just-graduated senior Erdelyi began training last Fall with USC's distance and cross country head coach Tom Walsh in preparation to make the Hungarian Olympic team in the marathon. Erdelyi was able to achieve the Olympic "A Standard" on her second attempt by running 2:36.56 at the Houston Marathon last January. Her time beat the Olympic Games "A" qualifying standard by just four seconds.
In London, Erdelyi posted a time of 2:44.45 to finish in 92nd place against the very best marathon runners in the world. The conditions for the Olympic Marathon were less than ideal as the runners had to negotiate rain, wind and several sharp turns which disrupted the running rhythm of the marathoners.
"I was very happy with Zsofi's Olympic race," said Walsh. "She missed more than four weeks of training in late May and June, yet she was still able to run tough and post a respectable time in the difficult London conditions."
Erdelyi (2008-12) left USC as the school record holder in the cross country 5K race (16:51.90) and she set three school track and field records in the 3000m steeplechase (10:01.99) the 5000m race (16:00.11) and in the 10000m race (33:18.75).
Former Trojan runner Tina Kefalas (1996-99) had a similar last minute journey on her way to qualifying for the Olympic marathon. In her last chance of the season, Kefalas ran 2:40.01 at the Enschede Marathon in the Netherlands in April to earn the Olympic "B" Standard and secure her spot to the London Olympic Games.
Kefalas finished the Olympic race with a time of 3:01.18. She injured her hip more than halfway through the race, but managed to handle the pain of the last 10 miles to make it to the finish line.
"Tina showed a lot of toughness and guts," said Wash. "She was in a lot of pain, so I was proud that she was able to finish the Olympic race."
Despite having no scholarships dedicated to cross country, USC's coach Walsh continues to have success with his distance runners. He has been able to coach his individual cross country athletes to the NCAA Championships seven times, including one All-American. The USC running experience has paid off as they continue their running careers after USC.
"I am proud of Zsofi and Tina because they both worked very hard to achieve their goals of making it to the Olympics," added Walsh. "Neither girl had run a marathon before this season started, and in the end, they both wind up qualifying for the Olympic Games. As a coach, it is rewarding to see this kind of hard work and dedication pay off."