Collin Matiza Sports Editor
FAST-RISING Zimbabwean sprinter Kundai Maguranyanga continued his strong sophomore campaign at Drake University in the United States where he set another college record during the three-day Kansas Relays which ended on Saturday at Lawrence in Kansas.
According to reports from Kansas, the Drake University track and field teams closed out the three-day Kansas Relays with the second-fastest men’s 200 metres in school history through their sophomore (second-year student) Maguranyanga.
Maguranyanga (20), who was born in Harare’s high-density suburb of Glen Norah, made the historic run in 20,56 seconds to improve upon his previous best and finished second in the Kansas Relays men’s 200 metres event.
His teammate at Drake University Viktor Peka finished seventh in the same event and the pair teamed-up with Aaron Cheir and Botswana’s Aobakwe Malau to finish third in the 4×100-metre relay in 41,46 seconds.
In the qualifying heats, Maguranyanga ran the third-fastest 200m of his Drake career to finish second among the competitors in 20,94 seconds.
And it was Maguranyanga’s brilliant performance in the final of the men’s 200m event which has once again sent some tongues wagging at Drake University where he is under the tutelage of former Zimbabwe star long jumper Ngonidzashe Makusha.
Makusha, a bronze medallist for Zimbabwe in the men’s long jump at the 2011 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, is now an assistant coach for sprints, hurdles and jumps at Drake University.
And he must have been left satisfied with Maguranyanga’s fine performance in the men’s 200m event on Saturday as his protégé continues to work towards setting the qualifying time for this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha in September.
The qualifying time for the men’s 200m event for this year’s World Championships has been set at 20,40 seconds and there’s a general feeling in the Drake University’s track and field team that Maguranyanga will achieve it during the qualifying window which is September 7, 2018 to September 6, 2019.
The IAAF initially intended to implement its “World Rankings” criteria for the first time for the 2019 season, which would have likely made the qualifying standards much more difficult than in the past as the world’s athletics governing body sought to incentivise athletes to compete at events that would affect their ranking.
However, after much bewilderment and head-scratching from the athletics community on the proposed system, the IAAF announced on November 11 last year that it would return to the traditional qualification system for the upcoming season.
And after the relaxation of the qualifying standards for the Doha World Championships, a number of athletes, including Zimbabwe’s Maguranyanga, are now looking at upping the ante ahead of the global showcase which is set to run from September 28 to October 6.
Maguranyanga arrived at the weekend’s Kansas Relays oozing with confidence following his traiblazing performance at the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship where he swept to victory in both the men’s 60 and 200-metre events towards the end of February.
The young Zimbabwean sprinter became the first Bulldog since 2001 to sweep the sprint titles.
Maguranyanga overcame a slow start in the 60 metres before storming back to win in 6,78 seconds, a day after recording the second-fastest time in school history of 6,73 seconds during the qualifying heats.
Maguranyanga also dominated the 200m event at the same meet, leading from wire-to-wire to win it in 21,37 seconds.
He followed this up by finishing fourth in the 200m in 21,05 seconds and fifth in the 100m in 10,56 seconds during the John McDonnell Invitational, hosted by the University of Arkansas, on April 12.
And speaking to The Herald yesterday, the young sprinter’s proud father and mentor, Joseph, said his son is destined for greater heights and is convinced that he will set the qualifying time for this year’s World Championships if he continues with his fine form during the current collegiate outdoor season in the United States.
“From what I heard from his Zimbabwean coach (Makusha), Kundai is doing well on the track and is working hard towards achieving his goal of qualifying for this year’s World Championships in Doha in September. Makusha said they are taking one meet at a time and is confident that Kundai will qualify for the global showcase,” Joseph Maguranyanga said from his base in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kundai Maguranyanga and The Bulldogs return home to the Blue Oval this upcoming week to compete in the annual Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee.
Apart from his four-year athletics scholarship, Kundai Maguranyanga, a former Pamushana High School pupil in Masvingo, is also studying for a degree in Computer Science at Drake University.