Zimbabwe’s nine man team faced a disappointing opening day at the CAA 12th Annual African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis. The 2015 continental premier track and field U20 championships run from March 5-8. On the first day of the competition, only one of Zimbabwe’s four competing sprinters, two each in 100m and 400m events, progressed past the heats to the semi-final round.
Tafadzwa Munyawarara ran a 11.31 100m qualifier to come 16th out of 23 runners spread over four heats to earn the last berth in the semi-final race. However, his 11.22 semi final run left him in last place in that round. Teammate Maxen Ncube ran a 11.95 in his 100m heat to come 23rd of 24 athletes. Today’s fastest time for the 100m was run by Nigeria’s Divine Odururu in an impressive 10.46.
In the 400m competition, Zimbabwe’s Lovejoy Mapfumo ran 49,58 to rank 13 while teammate Panashe Majuru ran 51.55 to come 17 of the 18 runners in the heats, so neither runner progressed in the top 8 that will go onto the final. The fastest 400m time today was 46.54 from Kenenisa Hailu Bali of Ethiopia.
Zimbabwe’s top female junior runners were noticeably absent from the competitions today in Addis. Medal hopeful Enlitha Ncube’s personal best time of 9:44:24 in the 3000m at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games last year would have earned her 4th place should she have competed in today’s All Africa race. Ruva Mzinde’s Region 5 100m time of 12.23 would have placed her 4th in the women’s 100m heats in Addis.
Tomorrow’s events, which include the 100m and 400m finals, middle distance runs and field events, do not any Zimbabwean athletes participating. Thus the final Zimbabwean track events, including the 4x100m relay, the 200m and the 800m will occur on the last two days of the competitions, March 7-8. Zimbabwe’s medal hopes may all lie on the final day of the competition when Region 5 gold medalists Brian Mada and Nyasha Mutsetse go out to compete.