FOLLOWING their Inter-provincial Championships on Sunday, the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe say they are impressed with the times.
NAAZ director for coaching, talent identification and development, Lisimati Phakamile, said there were some encouraging performances.
The competition was held at White City Stadium, in Bulawayo, and was their first event since March.
It attracted athletes from the country’s 10 provinces.
The meet, held under strict Covid-19 regulations, had a limited number of athletes who competed in five track events — 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1 500m and 5 000m.
Harare emerged winners ,with four gold medals, one silver and three bronze after fielding some of the leading athletes in the country — Ngoni Makusha and Dickson Kamungeremu.
Kamungeremu was first in the men’s 100m in 10.76seconds and Makusha won the 200m event in 20.85seconds.
Mashonaland Central were second with three gold, one silver and three bronze.
Hosts Bulawayo picked one gold, four silver and one bronze to complete the top three.
In the women’s section, Maryjoy Mudyiravanji, representing Mashonaland Central, was first in the women’s 800m in 2mins 18.82s while Precious Mutumwa of Harare was first in 400m in 58.82s.
Dorothy Kavhumbura, from Mashonaland Central, clocked 13.28s to win the women’s 100m.
Nyasha Mutsetse claimed the men’s 800m in 1minute 56.15s.
Phakamile said it was a promising start.
“I was actually impressed by the turnout of the athletes and the quality of the performance, considering the long lay-off, and the period that the athletes have been off track.
“For most of them, it was their first time this year to be on the track and their performance was very good, showing signs that they have been working during the lockdown, and are actually eager to come and compete.
“It was all about making sure that our athletes get back on their tracks, get back on their spikes and the form is quite good,” said Phakamile.
The likes of Makusha and Kamungeremu are earmarked for qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rescheduled for next year. There is also the Africa Senior Championships next year.
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“I did take a look at some of our targeted athletes for major competitions, they are actually on the right track, as far as fitness is concerned, and as far as competition is concerned. “They are actually up there and they are on track.
“But, definitely, more training and competition needs to be done to enhance our qualifying opportunities, that is the basic rule, more competition and more training,” said Phakamile. Coach David Tinago, who was leading the Harare provincial team and is also working with some of the athletes targeted for major competitions, was happy with the encouraging performances.
“The athletes’ overall performance was really good considering the long break that they had.
“And, also based on the training programmes that they were doing, it really showed that there is work in progress for both athletes and coaches,” Tinago said.