US$5 000 for athletics junior champs

Curtworth Masango

The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe Gift Chigwere Junior Championships second leg is set for tomorrow at the University of Zimbabwe and it will be a Junior Track and Field Championship event.

Baldmin Holdings are the primary sponsors of the event and have bankrolled it to the tune of US$5 000. The organisation has over the years sponsored athletics through its director, Costar Takawira.

Takawira is a former local 200m and 400m champion.

NAAZ president, Tendayi Tagara, said they are expecting fireworks as they are set to use the event to select athletes for the World Junior Championships in Lima in August.

“The event will see athletes aged 16-20 battling out for national honours. Some will be going for grudge matches from the Nash nationals (they were held three weeks ago).

“There will be fireworks in the 100m and 200m and two juniors who have already qualified for the World Junior Champs battle it out.

“We also expect top sprinters from private schools. Our target is to have between four and five athletes qualify for the World Champs that will take place in Lima in August 2024.

Tagara said they are grateful for the continued support by Baldmin Holdings.

“We are grateful for the continued support given to us by Mr Takawira. This is the spirit we expect from our former athletes to plough back to their sport.

“The event is called Gift Chigwere in honour of Mr Takawira’s former mentor, who identified his talent at Allan Wilson Boys High,” Tagara said.

Takawira said the future of Zimbabwean sports belongs to junior athletes.

“As Baldmin Holdings and a former athlete, the event means a lot to us as an organisation and individual too.

“The event marks the beginning of my sports career as an athlete after the late Allan Wilson Boys High sports master and coach the late Gift Chigwere identified my talent.

“In honour of his commitment to sports and helping previously disadvantaged athletes, as Baldmin, we decided to dedicate the event to him every year as part of our CSR programme,” Takawira said.

He added: “Junior athletes are the future of Zimbabwean sports and need harnessing. With NAAZ president Mr Tagara we saw it fit to have this event for juniors take place every year and groom our future stars.”

Takawira is looking forward to growing this event and bringing athletes from the USA to compete. They have already approached United States-based former middle-distance champion Phil Hanneck to facilitate that.

“We will plan to make one the IAAF Golden Meet soon where we will be having athletes from USA high schools and universities competing in our race.

“Phil Hanneck is at an advanced stage and will be organising the USA team visits to Zimbabwe. He is attending the event too and appreciates what we have done so far for the past two to three years since the inception of the event,” Takawira said.

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