United States based Zimbabwean triple jump Chengetayi Mapaya enhanced his hopes of qualifying for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games after breaking the country’s 23-year-old triple jump record at the weekend.
The 22-year-old, who is on a sports scholarship at Texas Christian University (TCU), achieved the feat at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor Track and Field Championships held in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday.
The former student at St George’s College in Harare finished second in the triple jump competition of the indoor championships reserved for the top track and field university teams in the US.
Mapaya’s best mark of 16.95m broke Ndabazihle Mdhlongwa’s long standing Zimbabwe indoor triple jump record from 1998 (16.89m), as well as TCU’s school record.
The now retired Mdlongwa was the outdoor triple jump African record holder with 17.34 metres from 1998 to 2007.
He won bronze medals at the 1992 World Junior Championships and the 1995 All-Africa Games.
He set the longstanding record which was broken by Mapaya at a meet held in March 1998 in Lafayette, USA.
Mapaya, who now looks set to follow in Mdlongwa’s spike marks, is aiming to qualify to represent Zimbabwe at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year.
Prior to his record-breaking leap on Saturday, his previous best indoor jump was 16.85m he set at the Texas Tech Shootout that set a TCU record earlier this year.
The 2019 NCAA outdoor triple jump champion becomes a six-time All-American. He also garnered a bronze medal at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships.
As a freshman in 2018, Mapaya reached the championship in the triple jump and finished third with a 16.38m (53-9) jump.
Mapaya now shifts his attention to the NCAA outdoor season where he will be aiming to continue his good form in order to meet the qualifying standards for the Tokyo Olympics.
The qualifying mark for the Olympic Games in the triple jump is 17.14m and it appears well within Mapaya’s reach after his exploits during the indoor season.