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When former University of Toledo runner Petra Teveli won the Mid-American Conference indoor championship in the mile in 2002, her performance made coach Kevin Hadsell take special note.
She won that MAC championship just because she was tough, said Hadsell, the UT track and cross country coach for the last 11 years. She wasn t necessarily what you would consider to be fast, she was just tough.
This summer, Teveli will represent her country, Hungary, in one of the toughest Olympic events there is the marathon.
Teveli, who ran at UT from 2001-03, will run the marathon in Beijing on Aug. 17.
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Hadsell said it s hard to predict anyone making it to the Olympics, but he was not surprised Teveli became an elite runner. UT has had four female runners in the top 25 in the world rankings, but never an Olympian.
You could tell there was something special about her in the fact she had all the commonalities of all the great runners we ve had here, Hadsell said. The great distance runners all have one thing in common, they push themselves further than average people would be able to.
In order to be a great distance runner you had to run at the point of exhaustion for a long point of time. Once she reached that point in the race where it really felt uncomfortable, she wouldn t let up. She would just keep running.
A native of Siofok, Hungary, Teveli is ranked in the top five in UT history in several distance events. She transferred to UT for her final two years of college from a university in Hungary. She decided to come to the United States for college after her sister, Zsanett, competed at the University of Idaho.
Teveli was first-team All-MAC in cross country in 2001 and 2002, with UT winning MAC titles both those years. She graduated from UT in 2003 with a individualized programs degree from University College and headed back to Hungary.
Teveli, 29 years old, didn t run her first marathon until 2003 and has run eight marathons in her life. She qualified for the Olympics with her time at the Milano Marathon last December, running the 26.2-mile race in two hours, 35 minutes and 21 seconds, which was under the Olympic A qualifying standard time needed to go to Beijing of two hours, 37 minutes.
Over the next several months her time held up as one of the three fastest in Hungary, so she will go along with 170 other Hungarians to Beijing.
That race was optimal in every sense, Teveli said in an e-mail interview from Budapest, where she lives now. In a marathon there are a plenty of things that can affect your performance, such as the weather, the course, the field, your refreshments, your actual shape, of course. I can tell you that at the Milano Marathon, everything fit together.
Marathoning is not an NCAA event and is something that takes years to excel in, Hadsell said.
The best marathoners in the world are not young people, Hadsell said. The amount of training you have to do to work up to that distance is tremendous. In college we run the shorter events. It doesn t burn them out so it s great for them.
Hadsell has been able to keep track of Teveli s postcollege career through e-mail correspondence. She won the 2006 Hungarian national championship in the marathon and also finished fourth at the European A League championships in the 5,000-meter race.
Although Teveli was in Toledo for only two years, it was a memorable time for her.
It was a very useful period of time for my running in many senses, mentally and physically as well, Teveli said. Thanks to my coach, Kevin Hadsell, and his positive attitude to everything, I managed to learn to deal with things either with successes or failures and also find and look at the good side of everything.
During preparing to marathon, there are so many occasions, such as training and competitions, that might not go as well as you have planned. But you still have to look ahead and believe in the work that you have done and focus on the positive side.
Teveli, who will travel to Beijing on Aug. 9, isn t setting what she feels are unrealistic expectations for herself in her first Olympics.
Everyone knows that the climate in Beijing will be our biggest enemy, Teveli said. Because of this, I am going to try to run very smart, start out in a calm pace so that I can do a strong finish, too.
All in all, I think to finish somewhere in the middle of the field will make me happy and satisfied.
Contact Maureen Fulton at:email@example.com 419-724-6160.