THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe will not hang its head in shame despite the country’s disastrous outing at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Durban, South Africa last week. The 25-member Team Zimbabwe returned home empty handed with only four of the athletes – three of them juniors – reaching the finals of their respective events. By Lawson Madzivanyika – Sunday Mail
The abysmal show meant Zimbabwe had the ignominy of being the only country among the 21 participants who failed to scoop a single medal at the 20th edition of the continental showcase.
However, Naaz president Tendai Tagara insisted things were not as bad as they looked.
“It’s not necessarily a disaster as it might appear to be on paper,” he said. “You need to note that this was a championship for seniors but in our team we had 10 juniors who competed at senior level. So they might have failed to clinch medals, fine, but look at the invaluable experience they got. In fact three of these juniors did very well and reached the finals.”
Ager Savannah, Tinotenda Matiyenga and Carnicious Wenjere are the three junior athletes who made the finals. Gabriel Mvumvure reached the finals in the 200m and narrowly missed out on a medal after coming fourth.
The United States-based athlete clocked 20,83s in a race won by Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa who stopped the clock at 20,02s.
Tendai Zimuto and Jacob Mugomeri, who were aiming to get Olympic qualification times, faltered in the 5 000m and 10 000m respectively. Zimuto came 19th in a race won by Kipserem Douglas of Kenya.
South Africa were the overall winners, bagging 33 medals. Kenya and Nigeria came second and third with 24 and 16 medals respectively.
“Obviously we would have wanted to feature at the top of the final medals’ table but things did not go the way we expected,” said Tagara. “But we cannot lose heart now, we have to build on the positives we saw in South Africa and kick on.”