Athletics season roars into life

Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
MORE than 200 long and middle-distance runners will tomorrow have the opportunity to assess their state of preparedness for the athletics season when they participate in the National Cross Country championships at Morris Depot.

Participants will fight for honours in the men’s 12km race while senior women and junior men will compete in an 8km event.

Junior women and cadets will take part in the 6km and 5km races.

National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president, Tendai Tagara, said athletes will assess their performance for upcoming events since the season is just starting.

“It’s an endurance event which we ask athletes — the long and middle distance-runners — to measure their readiness to challenge for qualification for the African championships and qualification for the Olympics.

“So we are expecting a very big turn out and a good quality competition. This is a 10 lap course for the seniors because each lap is 1,2m and for the senior women and junior men it’s about six laps

“Harare is hosting the event after a long time, about six years now because we rotate this event. We are happy it’s back to Harare at Morris Depot which is the centre for cross country,” said Tagara.

The championships are also serving as a platform for the selection of the national team to participate in the African championships next month.

However, the NAAZ president said the team will be determined by resources available to cater for the trip.

“It depends with how much we have in our pockets because we are still looking at our financial state,” said Tagara.

Munyaradzi Jari and Olivia Chitate are the reigning champions and will be out to defend their titles but they should expect tough competition from the likes of Tendai Zimuto and Jonathan Chinyoka.

Chinyoka, who last competed in the championships in 2014, said he is raring to go.

“I am using this event to prepare for an upcoming 42km race in Botswana where I want to try and qualify for the Olympics. So this event is an opportunity to train for that race.

“I am also looking forward to making it into the national team that will go to Cameroon. I know it’s going to be tough but I have been training for this competition and I am ready for the event,” said Chinyoka.

A symposium for the coaches will be held today in preparation for tomorrow’s race and the Harare Athletics Board secretary-general, Silas Muringani, said they will be addressing coaches on modern coaching programmes and selection of national teams for the various continental and international events set for this year.

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