Former rural runner on a mission to transform athletics
Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
EVER since he became the first black junior to be awarded school colours at Allan Wilson High School back in 1987 after amassing more than 15 gold medals in athletics, Costar Takawira has never looked back.
This feat shaped the former sprinter who still strives for that excellence even in his business.
He says he owes his success to athletics which opened doors for him.
Takawira is now the Managing Director of Baldmin Holdings – a firm with major interests in mining and medical supplies.
And he is using his company as a vehicle to give back to the sport he is passionate about.
Although he has sponsored football, assisting Shabanie Mine Football Club, his first love remains athletics.
And Takawira is on a mission to revive the Chamber of Mines Track and Field Championships that were the backbone of athletics during the pre and post-Independence era.
Through Baldmin Holdings, the businessman is sponsoring the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe triangular series that will see five races being staged this year in different provinces.
Takawira has set his sights on reviving the Chamber of Mines by sponsoring the national association.
He wants other upcoming athletes to benefit from his benevolence and make it in life through athletics.
As a person who grew up in the rural areas, Takawira believes there are less privileged yet talented athletes out there who can benefit from his Baldmin Foundation.
Already he runs a fully funded scholarship package for talented junior boys’ and girls’ athletes to go and study in the United States of America.
This week The Herald caught up with Takawira who shared his athletics journey and vision.
“I started running when I was in primary school in Murehwa because our school was 15km away from home.
“When I was in Grade Four a Mr. Chigwere saw me at Number 7 grounds competing in sprints and long distances at the then Chiweshe Brothers athletics championships.
“He offered me a high school place that day. He was impressed by my running. He visited my parents and told them that they must not worry about my High School tuition fees since he was going to take care of it.
“I then joined Allan Wilson High School in 1987 where I was doing cross-country and track events.
“I was the first black junior at Allan Wilson to be awarded school colours when I was doing Form 3 after amassing more than 15 gold medals in one season after competing at various meets,” said Takawira.
Takawira says the former NAAZ president, Robert Mutsauki, was his coach then and honed his skills from being an all-rounder athlete to specialising in sprints.
“I then began to run under the All Stars flagship with the likes of Ken Harnden, Felix Kamangirira and Tawanda Chiwira to mention a few.
“I was doing the 200m, 400m and relays. I competed at the National Championships, Chamber of Mines and several international events from 1991.
“I ran my best 400m in Botswana beating Depepa who was one of the best in Africa at that time,” he said.
With his feat of four gold and two silver medals at international events that included the Zone Six, CUCSA Games and University Games held in Swaziland in 1992, Takawira had done enough to win himself a scholarship.
“I was offered three scholarships in the USA at Idaho University, LSU and Georgia State University but due to some changes in the conference requirements I missed my scholarship as my birthday was on August 1 when the new rules came into effect,” he said.
Takawira continued to run at the Chamber of Mines before he retired as the new stars, the likes of Philip Mukomana, Jeff Wilson and Jeff Maswanhise were emerging and doing very well.
After retirement, he briefly coached juniors at Shabanie Mine until he left for South Africa to pursue a career.
Since 2008 he has been giving back to the community by sponsoring athletes and giving out scholarships to young talent.