NAAZ gear for Africa champs Tendayi Tagara

Ellina Mhlanga

Senior Sports Reporter

THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe are expected to field eight athletes at the upcoming Africa Senior Championships in Douala, Cameroon.

The competition is running from June 21 to 26. It is serving as a qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

NAAZ had hoped to send a bigger team, however, NAAZ president Tendayi Tagara said they are now looking at sending eight athletes due to financial constraints.

“We are sending a smaller team due to financial constraints. But we are hoping that the team that will be there, will represent us successfully.

“Our focus for the team that is going there is one; those who are 99 percent closer of qualifying for the Olympics have been considered. We are also chasing the last slot for the relays for the Olympics. That’s why we will send the best of the best of our athletes there.

“Tickets are quite expensive because we are also bringing athletes from USA, which is quite costly. But we felt that it’s important that these athletes are there to do their best,” said Tagara.

Following the National Inter-Provincial Track and Field Championships that were staged at White City Stadium over the weekend, NAAZ director of coaching Lisimati Phakamile is now expected to announce the team.

It was the final selection event for the continental meet.

“The turnout was pleasing with Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North fielding some of the biggest numbers in terms of participants including Mashonaland West.

“We also note the increase of the number of participants and the outstanding performance in 100m, 200m and 400m, even the 10 000m.

“We are happy that the electronic timing is now working. We were able to invite an expert from South Africa to work on it and make sure that he manages the competition to the end.

“We are also happy that our perennial sponsor, Mr (Costar) Takawira of Baldmin Holdings came on board again to bankroll this year’s event,” said Tagara.

Harare retained the title.

Hosts Bulawayo were second, followed by Mashonaland Central on third position. The top three received trophies courtesy of Bulawayo Athletics Board (BAB).

BAB chairperson Watson Madanyika was pleased with their performance.

“The turnout was very good it was one of the best so far this year. Even the supporters came in numbers despite the cold weather.

“The quality of the competition was superb and it was motivated by the electronic timing system and every athlete ran at maximum speed hoping to qualify for World Junior Championships and African Championships. And overall their times were not bad.

“Thando Dlodlo was best performer in 100m men posting 10.04 seconds. Bulawayo came second, overall the athletes performed well and it was because the majority of the athletes are juniors and youths compared to the Harare team which fielded senior athletes on all the categories,” said Madanyika.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Nobukhosi Tshuma and Givemore Mudzinganyama left a mark at the Comrades Marathon in South Africa when coming fourth and 10th in the women and men’s categories respectively.

Tshuma was fifth in the women’s section with a time of 6 hours 12 minutes 18 seconds.

South African Gerda Steyn was the first to cross the finish line in the women’s section in 5 hours 49 minutes 46 seconds. Alexandra Morozova from Russia came second in 6 hours 5 minutes 12 seconds and Courtney Olsen of United States placed third in 6 hours 8 minutes 9 seconds.

Another South African Carla Molinaro was fourth in 6 hours 12 minutes 1 second. In the men’s category, seasoned ultra-marathon runner Mudzinganyama finished 10th when crossing the finish line in 5 hours 37 minutes 9 seconds. Piet Wiersma of Netherlands won the race in a time of 5 hours 25 minutes. He was followed by South Africa’s Dan Moselakwe with a time of 5 hours 25 minutes 45 seconds and on third place was Degefa Yohannese Lafebo from Ethiopia in 5 hours 27 minutes 48 seconds.

This year’s official route distance was 85.91km.

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