Ellina Mhlang in ASABA, Nigeria

THE African Senior Athletics Championships enter day four today with Zimbabwe still hoping to make an impression after their torch-bearer Ngoni Makusha missed the podium in the 100m final dash on Thursday.

Zimbabwe have struggled in individual events and so far the team’s best performance was from Makusha who, however, finished sixth in the men’s 100m final with a time of 10.45seconds on Thursday.

Today, Makusha — together with Tatenda Tsumba and Dickson Kapandura — will be back on the track for the men’s 200m event while Faith Dube is up for the same event in the women’s section at Stephen Keshi Stadium this morning.

After reaching the final in the 100m event, where he competed with the likes of South Africa’s Akani Simbine, who was the eventual winner in 10.25seconds, Makusha said he is looking forward to the 200m race.

“I am not that disappointed. I am happy (that) I reached the final which is a good result for me. I know that I will keep improving in the future. So I am happy.

“After all the heats, semi-final and final, now I just have to recover from all this fatigue. I just have to stretch, drink water, rest fully and hopefully do well in the 200m,” said Makusha. Tsumba, after making the semi-finals in 100m, will also be out to give his best with the focus also on him as one of the top athletes in the Zimbabwean team.

Kapandura, still to graduate from the juniors, will have a feel of competing with Africa’s best talent at this level.

Maryjoy Mudyiravanji competes in 800m later in the day and could compete against Olympian Caster Semenya if they are pitted in the same heats. But for her it’s more about pushing for her personal best time which stands at 2 minutes 10 seconds at the moment.

“Tomorrow (today) I am going to try my best although I am going to run with top athletes, some from Kenya. I just want to improve my personal best and do my best.

“I was nervous before the competition started, but after watching some of the races and my fellow teammates competing it eased the pressure and I feel better. I think I am ready now,” said Mudyiravanji. Zimbabwe missed out in the 400m and 800m events with Rodwell Ndlovu being the only Zimbabwean that pulled through to the semi-finals and he finished sixth in 47.94seconds, which could not see him through to the final.

The pair of Blessing Nyandoro and Tafirenyika, who were roped into the team as part of the national association’s development plan for juniors, still have some work to do as they prepare to graduate to the senior level.

They both managed position six in their respective heats with Nyandoro clocking 48.98seconds and Tafirenyika ran 48.13seconds.

One of the coaches with the team here, David Tinago, said there is room for the upcoming athletes to improve as they prepare to graduate to the next level.

“Our junior development it has really amazed me in a way because some of these boys they haven’t really started training professionally. So coming to such a meet and competing with these guys and producing such results that means Zimbabwe has a future in sprints,” said Tinago.

Nyasha Mutsetse settled for position 10 in the 800m event with a time of 1minute 53.20seconds.

In the women’s 400m, Dube, who is making her first appearance at the championships, was fifth in 56.54seconds and said there is a lot to learn from the competition.

“Being here showed me that I have the potential to do better. It showed me that my training was all good, but at the same time it showed me that I need to also up my standard. It was good competing with professional athletes, it was quite a good experience. I really like it.

“I have learnt a few running techniques . . . I just need to also prepare myself for bigger competitions mentally,” said Dube.

The 4x100m relay team consisting of Ndlovu, Tsumba, Kapandura and Tafirenyika qualified for the final that were set for last night as one of the best runners-up with a time of 40.37seconds.

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