Ipswich: 7ft basketball player to run three marathons in one day

HE may be thousands of miles from home, but Tendai Simbai has not forgotten what he has left behind.

Ingrained in his mind are the faces of the African schoolchildren from his village battling poverty, struggling each day to survive.

Nine years ago Tendai left his home in Zimbabwe to play basketball in the UK.

Due to the situation in his country, the 32-year-old cannot return home and is forced to watch from afar as people struggle.

But in a bid to help change the lives of children in Zimbabwe, the 7ft tall athlete is up every day at 5.30am training to run three marathons in one day, making his way from central London back to his home in Ipswich, in May. But Tendai, of Cauldwell Avenue in the town, refuses to see the challenge as a struggle.

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“These kids go home and they have no food. If you see how little these kids have, you realise running three marathons is nothing,” he said.

“They face years of suffering, mine will be just one day.”

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Last summer Tendai went back to Africa, to neighbouring Zambia, to see his relatives who had travelled from Zimbabwe to spend a week with him.

While there he visited a school, taking basketball kit to help the youngsters play sport.

It was that which inspired him to do something to raise money to help.

“In Africa the kids grow up in extreme poverty and for many, drugs is their way of making money to survive,” he said.

“I want to help children in rural village schools – life is tough for those kids but if they stick with education and sport their futures will be better.

“I want these kids to know no matter what, stay away from drugs, I want to show them a better way.

“I came here from Africa and it is easy to forget what life is like back home,” he added.

“I need to do something so they know I have not forgotten them, I am thinking about them.

“I am learning a lot over here so when I go home I can share it with them.”

As well as running three marathons to raise money for the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation, Tendai is organising a shoe collection for the children he met in Zambia, to help them follow in his footsteps and take up sport.

To follow Tendai’s progress, find out more and sponsor his Great Big Run for Zimbabwe, visit www.justgiving.com/greatbigrun or e-mail greatbigrun@hotmail.co.uk.

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