Pardon Ndhlovu, an Olympic marathoner from Zimbabwe, spoke to about 300 student-athletes as part of the Business of Champions program, presented by the Tillman School of Business.
Ndhlovu discovered an ability to run as a youngster and competed in high school track. He set a goal to go the United States to run track at a Division I institution. He did make it to the United States, but due to various reasons, he ended up attending a Division II school.
When Ndhlovu arrived in the United States, he expected to see skyscrapers everywhere and for everyone to drive a convertible, based on what he had seen on television. Obviously, he quickly learned that there was more to the United States than skyscrapers and convertibles. His first meal in the United States was at a Taco Bell.
Ndhlovu had a successful college running career, earning All-America honors in cross country and track. After graduation, he knew he wanted to continue his running and decided to pursue the marathon. He went on earn a master's in business administration while coaching and training.
His dedication paid off when he met the Olympic qualifying time in the marathon and was selected to represent Zimbabwe at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Ndholovu finished 41st in the race. Upon completing the race, he realized that it had taken him time to achieve his goal, but he had overcome all the obstacles that had been in his way to be able to represent his country at the highest level.
Ndholovu shared his personal keys to success: wake up motivated every day; practice self-discipline; focus on the things that you can control, like attitude and effort; realize that life is like a marathon, it takes time to reach your goals; and don't let obstacles don't determine your future.
"Pardon's speech was very inspirational. His story shows that anything is possible with hard work and dedication," said Daphne Hawkins a sophomore member of the women's track & field team.
Ndholovu is now training for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Once his athletic career is over, he hopes to use his MBA to help give back to his home country through a non-profit organization.