Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) will only send athletes for the Zambia track and field championships if more Southern African countries confirm participation in the meet.
Zambia invited Southern African countries to participate in their May 15-16 championships, but by Wednesday, none of the neighbouring countries had confirmed participation.
Naaz president Tendai Tagara said for the Zambian meet to be recognised as an Olympic qualifying event, at least three countries should field athletes.
He said Naaz has informed its Zambian counterpart that Zimbabwe will only participate if more countries join the party.
“There is limited time before the qualification deadline for Olympic Games. It is sad to note that the region (Southern African countries) is silent on coming up with a qualification race. We had hoped that maybe Botswana or Namibia will organise a race that will bring at least three countries so that the times and distances posted by athletes are recognised.
“The major challenge has been resources associated with organising such events. But Zambia have said they’re having their championships on May 15-16 and we said if other countries are going, then we will send participants. We’re in constant communication with our Zambian counterparts,” said Tagara.
The Zimbabwe’s men’s relay team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games at the World Relays in Chorzow, Poland, last Saturday.
Naaz encouraged overseas athletes to target individual qualification by participating in recognised events being held closer to their bases.
Among the athletes Naaz hopes can qualify for the global sports festival are the United States of America (USA) based pair of Tinotenda Matiyenga and Kundai Maguranyanga, as well as Tatenda Tsumba, who is in the United Kingdom.
Should track and field athletes fail to qualify for the Olympics before the end of this month, their final chance will be the Senior African Championships set for June 1-5 in Algeria. – @ZililoR