Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
SPRINTER Ngoni Makusha will compete in the Gauteng track and field athletics competition tomorrow, as he continues with his final push to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe’s track and field athletes are still struggling to secure Olympic tickets, with both long-distance runners and sprinters so far failing to qualify for the global showpiece.
The deadline for track and field athletes still chasing an Olympic dream is June 30, while marathon qualifiers ended on May 31.
Now only foreign-based track and field athletes carry the country’s hopes of qualifying for the Games following cancellation of the Africa Senior Championships.
The continental athletics meet had been scheduled for Lagos, Nigeria, from June 23-27, but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shattering a host of local athletes’ dreams of qualification.
The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) was planning to send 10 athletes for the African Championships.
Lisimathi Phakamile, Naaz’s national director of coaching and talent identification development, described cancelation of the Africa Senior Championships as a big blow for Zimbabwe.
“Now the qualification situation is a bit tricky and tough because the Africa Senior Championships were meant to afford our athletes an opportunity to clock Olympic times and distances. Now there are no other means for qualification, especially for local athletes. The Olympic dream may be over for track and field, as well as long distance athletes,” said Phakamile.
“Cancelation of this continental meet is a spoiler. Now our hopes rest with foreign-based athletes in events closer to their bases.”
Makusha has been training in South Africa and is set to participate in three provincial championships that will be held over three weekends in different provinces, starting tomorrow.
Some overseas-based athletes that Naaz hopes can qualify for the Games are the United States of America (USA) based trio of Chengetayi Mapaya, Tinotenda Matiyenga and Kundai Maguranyanga, as well as Tatenda Tsumba, who is based in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Naaz will hold a track and field event in Bulawayo on June 19, with focus being on junior athletes that will compete in the World Junior Championships to be held in Kenya next month. — @ZililoR