Fast-rising Zimbabwean sprinter Kundai Leo Maguranyanga was walking on cloud nine after he won the Freshman of the Year award at the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Indiana, United States, at the weekend.
This came after the 20-year-old Harare-born athlete, who moved to Drake University in Iowa, United States, on a four-year athletics scholarship in January this year, set two new personal best times in the 100 and 200m events at the three-day 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships which were aired on ESPN+.
According to reports from Missouri, Maguranyanga collected MVC Men’s Freshman of the Year honours for finishing in the top three in both the 100 and 200m events.
In the 100m event Maguranyanga clocked 10.44 seconds as he settled for third place while in the 200m final, he came second with a time of 20.66 seconds in a race which was won by a senior who ran 20.57 seconds.
Maguranyanga had earlier clocked 20.86 seconds in the 200m qualifying heats.
And his performances in the finals of the 100 and 200m events helped the Drake men’s team to finish fifth in the team standings, the programme’s best finish since 2013.
“Although I failed to finish first in both the 100 and 200m events, I think finishing in the top three in both competitions is quite an achievement for myself as I was running against some senior athletes.
“I am now looking forward to the regional championships in California in June where I hope to lower my times and hopefully win a gold medal there,” Maguranyanga said from his base in Iowa.
He recounted how he performed during the weekend’s championships in Missouri.
“First, I would like to thank God for the gift and power he has given me. Without Him I wouldn’t be where I am (today). My parents have been my two pillars, running a fast time or not, they never doubted me. My coach (Ngonidzashe) Makusha kept saying just go out there and have fun and I kept asking myself this man is talking about ‘fun’… it’s hard to even smile before a race but then again he had faith in me that I was ready for these conference champs.
“At first all I was hoping for was just getting a medal. When I ran the 200m (qualifier) with a time of 20.86 I was shocked and that’s when it all started. In the 100m (I’m not really a fan of it), I ended up running a 10.44 in the final behind two seniors and they both said ‘you’re the future of this conference’. These words motivated me to see how fast I could go.
“All I want is for both my parents to be proud of me and what a nice thing having a proud and shocked mother on Mother’s Day.
“Out at the turn I executed just what the coach and I had planned. I did all the phases he taught me and with a clear glimpse of the finish line, I saw myself in a good spot.
“I kept saying I can and I will in my mind; and after the race I was done with it.
“When I looked at the times I was on second position that made me so happy . . . and then I saw the 20.67 and I was jumping all over the place as if I had finished in first place.”
His main aim is to represent Zimbabwe at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan in 2020.