Face To Face With Rutendo Chimbaru

School Sports Network’s Mutsa Chiromo talks to Zimbabwe Junior sprint queen – Rutendo “Chim” Chimbaru from Arundel School. Chimbaru speaks on how she got into track and opens up on why she prefers sprints over long distances. The sprint queen has represented Zimbabwe regionally, most recently at the 2015 COSASA championships in Lesotho where she won double gold over the 100m and 200m distances.

SSN: For as long as I can remember you have not lost a race nationally. How do you stay focused enough to keep training and preparing for the end goal?
Rutendo: I believe in staying humble through and through. Before each race or training session, I forget all my victories. I approach each race as the underdog, instead of the girl with all the national accolades. You never know what your opponent is doing; just because you won the last time doesn’t guarantee a second win, anything can happen.  That alone inspires me keep training harder.

SSN: Let’s go back to the basics. Who is Rutendo Chimbaru?
Rutendo: Rutendo Chimbaru is the girl who got blessed with a talent. She believes that humility is the most important quality that one can have. I love sport, especially athletics.

SSN: How long have you been into track, and how did it all start?
Rutendo: For about 9 years now, but I only started putting my heart and all when I started high school in 2011. Funny story – I volunteered to be part of a relay in Grade 3.  My friends threatened to beat me if I made the team so I ran my hardest. That’s when I started track.

SSN : So tell me, why short distances?
Rutendo: I actually started as both a long and short distance athlete, but as the years went by I realized that I was way better at sprints than long distances, so I focused on that. Plus watching the likes of Shelly-Ann and Fraser-Pryce inspired me to pursue short distance events.

SSN: Do you have a regime when it comes to training both on and off season?
Rutendo: Not really, it all depends on what my coaches have planned for me.

SSN: What is your biggest achievement thus far in track?
Rutendo: My biggest achievement thus far would be winning double gold at the COSSASA games for my 100m and 200m.

SSN: Do you intend to continue your sporting career after high school and to what level?
Rutendo: Yes, I do. I would like to reach professional level. Hopefully,the Olympics.

SSN: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Rutendo: My biggest challenge has been failing to make the Zim team for three years in a row. It’s something I really wanted, so I kept on trying. It’s better to fail than to have never tried. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 helped me get through it and Jeremiah 29 vs 11.

SSN: I’m sure if you persevere you’ll get there. I understand you also play hockey. What do you prefer between team sports and individual sports?
Rutendo: I prefer individual sports because on days when I feel like I’m the worst athlete ever, I’m only letting myself down, whereas in team sport I’m letting down ten other people, for example.

SSN: What is your opinion on Zimbabwean athletics?
Rutendo: I think that Zim aths has a long way to go. For example, at the National Championships times aren’t available to athletes after races, and the competitions are hardly ever run on time. I feel as though athletics is not taken as seriously as other sports such as Zim rugby or Zim hockey, especially in terms of funding.

SSN: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Rutendo: The fact that a female sprinter from Zimbabwe has yet to make waves on the international track and field scene drives me to keep working harder.

SSN: What sets you apart from other sprinters?
Rutendo: Well, during a race or training no matter how much pain I am feeling, I will keep pushing until I collapse. For me track is not a sport; it’s my life.

SSN: Very inspiring. This last question is our signature question. What is your take on discipline in schools sport?
Rutendo: I think students are well- disciplined to some extent. The coaches make sure that students stay in line, and at the end of the day students play the sport they do because they love it.