Team Zimbabwe will begin the long bus ride home from Maseru this morning, May 3, carrying a weighty load of medals – 28 gold, 28 silver and 17 bronze for a total of 73 to be precise. Topping the medal table at the COSASA Athletics Championships, Zimbabwe showed their prowess at both the U14 and U17 levels in sprints and middle distances on the track and long and triple jumps in the field. Out of the three competing countries in this year’s COSASA event, Zimbabwe beat Namibia who finished with 17 gold, 17 silver and 24 bronze and hosts Lesotho who trailed with 5 gold, 5 silver and 6 bronze.
As impressive as the team topping the medal table, some of Zimbabwe’s top track and field athletes earned personal bests, broke COSASA records and qualified to take part on a fast-growing Zimbabwean team at the IAAF World Youth Championships which will take place 15-19 July in Cali, Columbia.
Zimbabwe dominated all aspects of Day 3, the last day of the competition, which featured jumps, sprints and relays. They won all categories of 100m and 400m relays and dominated the medley relays as well. However, the most notable performances today were in the U17 individual sprints, and won mostly by runners from Harare Province, which by no coincidence won this year’s NASH National Athletics Championships.
Both team captains Lovejoy Mapfumo of Prince Edward and Nomatter Kapfudzarura qualified in their gold medal 400m races for the World Youth Champs. Mapfumo finished with a time of 48:87 against a qualifying standard of 49,45 and Kapfudzarura in 56.82 versus a qualifying requirement of 57.20.
Vimbayi Maisvoreva edged out teammate Enlitha Ncube in the 800m women’s race with a time of 2:12.44, with Ncube settling for silver with 2:12.52. Both runners qualified to travel to World Youth Championships by finishing under the 2:14 qualifying standard. St George’s Alfred Chawonza ran a quick 800m for gold in 1:55.45, but missed the qualifying time by one second. Godwin Moyo finished with silver in 1:56.83.
Tinotenda Matiyenga of Prince Edward School wowed the crowds by clinching gold in the 200m with a time of 21.71 to qualify him for World Champs in Cali. A double gold medalist in Maseru, Matiyenga edged out the 100m field to win gold in an impressive 10.92, but slower than the 10,82 record which SSN recorded electronically at Lomagundi Athletics in March which is under the 10.90 qualifying mark.
Arundel School’s sprint sensation, Rutendo “Chim” Chimbaru also won double gold in Maseru for her team, with an impressive 12:48 in the 100m and 25:58 in the 200m. Both of her times were personal bests and just off the qualifying marks of 12.30 and 25.35 respectively. With continued training “Chim” may still be able to qualify to join the Zimbabwean team in July.
Team Zimbabwe broke three COSASA records during the meet, though surprisingly, none of them were on the track. Thirteen year old Shamiso Mutayi smashed the U14 girls’ long jump record with a jump of 4.75m. Thirteen year old Energy Machingo earned a new U13 girls’ javelin record with a throw of 31.73m, Zimbabwe’s only gold in the throws.
It looks like Zimbabwe’s triple jump legacy started by Olympian Ngonidzashe Makusha and followed by 2014 SSN Player of the Year Brian Mada is set to continue with a strong crop of male triple jumpers coming up. Mada had his 2013 triple jump COSASA record of 14.54m smashed by 17 year old Chenge Mapaya of St George’s College who earned a personal best with an impressive personal best U17 jump of 14.92m, an incredible improvement from the 14.26 he jumped to break a record at Lomagundi Athletics in March. Mapaya’s jump is over the 14.80 measurement needed for World Youth Champs. Cloud Masibhera, who the previous day won gold in the long jump, also broke Mada’s record with a silver medal jump of 14.78m. Zimbabwe’s Lungani Moyo jumped 14.11 for bronze to make it a clean sweep.
The female jumpers from Zimbabwe, though not close to record or qualifying marks, swept all three medals in the triple jump as well, with Sifelani Mpofu winning gold with a jump of 11.07 and Peace Tizera close behind with 11.04 for silver.