Collin Matiza Sports Editor
After setting the 13th African Junior Athletics Championships alight in Tlemcen, Algeria, in July last year where he helped Zimbabwe to win a gold medal in the boys 4x100m relay, promising young sprinter Kundai Maguranyanga has won himself a four-year athletics scholarship at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, United States.
Interestingly, Maguranyanga, who first came second in the 200m event behind Clarence Munyai of South Africa in 21.11 seconds before he won the boys 4x100m gold medal for Zimbabwe in Tlemcen with Dickson Kapandura, Tinotenda Matiyenga and Donovan Mutariswa in 40.64 seconds, will be under the guidance of fellow Zimbabwean Ngonidzashe Makusha during his four-year stay at Drake University.
Makusha, a bronze medallist for Zimbabwe in the men’s long jump at the 2011 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, is now an assistant coach for sprints, hurdles and jumps at Drake University.
Makusha joined the Drake track and field staff in August, 2017, after serving as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, Florida State while competing internationally since 2012. He owns the Zimbabwe’s national records in both the 100m (9.89sec) and long jump (8.40m).
And it is Makusha who snatched 19-year-old Maguranyanga from under the noses of other international athletics coaches after the young sprinter impressed on the track during last year’s African Junior Championships in the Algerian city of Tlemcen.
Maguranyanga, who is scheduled to leave for the United States on Monday from Johannesburg, South Africa, attracted the attention of international scouts and trainers in Algeria when he first came second in the 200m event in a good time of 21.11 seconds. He was then approached by a number of international scouts, including Erik Jenkins, the head coach of track and cross-country at Western Kentucky University in the United States.
But Maguranyanga was, however, snatched by fellow Zimbabwean Makusha who offered him a good deal at Drake University where, apart from athletics, he will be studying for a degree in Software Engineering. And according to Maguranyanga’s father, Joseph, the track and field coaches at Drake University cannot wait for his son’s arrival at their institution early next week.
“I spoke to Drake University’s coach (Makusha) yesterday and he said Kundai’s arrival at the university is going to be a big event because it’s going to be the first time that they will be having in their stable an athlete who has run 200m in 20.11 seconds,” said Joseph Maguranyanga, who was speaking from his base in Fourways near Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is working as an engineer.
Kundai Maguranyanga was born on May 17, 1998 in Harare. He grew up in Glen Norah C. At a tender age he was already showing “the characteristics” of a promising sprinter when he raced with other kids in the streets of the hood.
Kundai would outpace them with ease and noone took him seriously and when he started Grade One at Kudakwashe Primary School in Glen Norah, he would do the same in track and field events, outpacing other runners in his age-group.
He was then transferred to a primary school called Boskop in South Africa to join his father who had relocated there At Boskop, Kundai was involved in other sporting disciplines such as swimming, rugby and cricket.
He excelled in all these disciplines, getting numerous medals and trophies in the process. Kundai was later transferred to a boarding school, Zimuto Mission School in Masvingo here in Zimbabwe, for his high school education.
At Zimuto Mission, he was limited to athletics as there were few sporting disciplines at the school due to limited resources. Athletics, soccer and volleyball were the common sporting disciplines at the school and Kundai had no choice but to concentrate on athletics.
He did not have much competition with athletes of his age-group as he always came tops. That earned him the nickname “Bolt” after the now-retired top Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Kundai had to compete with athletes who were above his age-group.
But his fathe was not happy with his “too much involvement in sports at Zimuto Mission’’ and he was transferred to Pamushana, another school in Masvingo when he was doing Form Three. The reason was to distract his attention from sports.
But that never happened. The Sports Master at Pamushana noticed Kundai’s talent in athletics and he continued with his journey to stardom. At 15 he participated at national level where he won gold in 100m and 4x200m relay races.
Kundai was then included in the national team of his age-group which went to Lesotho for the Cosasa Games and he did not disappoint. In Lesotho he realised that he needed to train extra hard to be counted among the best athletes in the field.
His father, who now happens to be his number one supporter, surprisingly changed his perception of sport and started backing what his son likes most. During holidays he would be enrolled to an academy in South Africa called Fitness From Africa, under the guidance of trainer Marcel Viljoen.
Viljoen “polished” him to become a quality athlete and gave him mental and physical guidance. Kundai trained with FFA and was selected to participate in the South Africa Provincial competition where he ran 21.39s in 200m and 10.3s in 100m.
Back home Kundai participated at Nash competitions in 2015, 2016, 2017 at Southern Eastern College (Chiredzi), Peterhouse College (Marondera) and Lomagundi College (Chinhoyi).
In 2015 Kundai was the best athlete at national level at a competition of 10 provinces, scooping four gold medals in 100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x200m relays. The folowing year he got a scholarship from AVM when he was voted the best athlete at the Inter-Dutch Schools competitions in Masvingo where he again won four gold medals in 100m, 200m, 4x100m and medley relay.
Now he set to scale greater heights when he leaves for the United States for his scholarship.