NINE athletes who are part of the Zimbabwe’s representative athletics team for the 20th CAA African Senior Championships which gets underway in Durban, South Africa left Bulawayo by road yesterday. The athletes were in camp at Northlea High School in Bulawayo from Tuesday. The other Team Zimbabweathletes, who are based outside the country will fly straight to South Africa from their bases across the world. By Phineas Mukwazo Sports Editor
Some of the athletes who will join the team in Johannesburg include junior athletes Alice Maudze, Gabri Mbegema, Sukoluhle Mlalazi and Maryjoy Mudyiravanji and Rutendo Chimberu, who will meet their counterparts in Johannesburg from Zambia where they were participating at the Southern Region Junior Championships that finished on Friday.
Yvonne Thomas will join the team from Botswana as well as Tsitsi Mahachi who is domiciled in Mauritius on an IAAF scholarship. United States based and medal hopeful Gabriel Mvumvure will also fly straight to Johannesburg.
However, a big blow for Zimbabwe will be the absence of long and short distance queen Olivia Chitate, who reportedly pulled out of the travelling party due to family commitments.
“We are travelling there not only to get medals but also to make sure that our athletes qualify for the Olympic Games in Brazil as well as the World Junior Championships. Infact winning medals will be a bonus for us,’’ said Manuel Mpofu, who is team Zimbabwe assistant manager.
“The guys are on high spirits, Roy Zakaria, Jacob Mugomeri and Wellington Varevi were all in high spirits, the mood is that they are ready for the tournament.’’
The IAAF World junior Championships are set for Kazan, Russia next month.
Earlier, National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara said in coming up with Team Zimbabwe, they looked at giving both the juniors and seniors ample opportunity to participate at the Championships.
“We looked at a mixture of seniors and juniors as to give the youngsters an opportunity to be pushed for World Juniors Championship qualification,’’ said Tagara.
Tagara also disclosed that Durban will also offer their athletes a chance to qualify for Rio 2016, while those who have already qualified get to improve on their personal best times.
“We expect a medal from Mvumvure, some juniors to achieve qualifying times, seniors to PB times, and some local based athletes to grab medals,’’ he said.
Mvumvure is a former Africa junior champion who has a personal best time of 9,98 seconds and is expected to join camp in Bulawayo ahead of the team’s departure for South Africa on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Athletics South Africa has selected one of the largest teams ever to represent South Africa at the African Championships that will run from Wednesday to Sunday.
A total of 96 athletes made of 52 men and 44 Women will be led by team management of 16 members. About 43 countries and more than 719 athletes, with more than 100 sports journalists have confirmed their presence at what promises to be an action packed Track and Field feast, according to Aleck Sikhosana, the president of Athletics South Africa.
100m/200m: Gabriel Mvumvure, Ngoni Makusha, Hlungwayo Shingirai
400m: Francis Zimwara, Nigel Tom
800m: Chaonza Alfred,
5000m: Tendai Zimuto
800m/1500m: Nyasha Mutsetse
1500m: Wellington Varevi
10 000m: Jacob Mugomeri
110m hurdles: Selby Mukucha
400m hurdles: Roy Zakaria
Triple Jump: Chengetai Mapaye
Decathlon: Keegan Cooke
100m/200m: Thomas Yvonne, Sukoluhle Mlalazi
200m: Mbegema Gabri
200m/400m: Mahachi Tsitsi, Chimberu Rutendo
800/1500m: Mudyiravanji Maryjoy
100m hurdles: Maudze Alice
High Jump: Wells Kayla
Triple Jump: Makhaya Cathrine
Shortput: Ager Savana.