Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
THE athletics season got underway yesterday on a slow start with most of the seasoned athletes missing in action at the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe Season Opener track and field championships at the National Sports Stadium B Arena.
It was a slow start with most of the top athletes absent and some of the age-groups had to be combined due to a low turnout.
Around 150 athletes from Harare, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Mashonaland West competed in 60m, 150m, 300m, 600m, long jump, discus and shot put events.
But those that attended took advantage of the competition to gauge their state of preparedness for the season and identify areas they need to work on ahead of national, regional and international competitions.
The juniors are looking at qualification for the World Under-20 Championships to take place in Kenya in July while senior athletes have the Africa Senior Championships and the Olympics to be held between July and August.
Although yesterday’s event did not feature high jump, the Chadenga brothers — Kudakwashe and Munyaradzi — who both specialise in high jump took advantage to work on their speed and technique.
Kudakwashe is the national record holder for schools competition in high jump at 2.03m and is seeking qualification for the World Under-20 Championships. He took part in the 150m event.
“This was for speed and techniques. It helps me perfect my technique and speed at the same time.
“For this year obviously I want to go for the World Junior Championships which are being held in Kenya. I would want to go for the Region Five Games in December. Those are the biggest goals for this year,” said Kudakwashe.
His elder brother Munyaradzi said he is working towards qualification for the Africa Senior Championships.
“Today it was mainly more of a practice competition. It was just mainly focusing on speed and technique and preparing for the next competitions.
“I am hoping to qualify for the Africa Senior Championships in Algeria that’s the big goal for me this year and attending other Southern Region competitions and hopefully get to break the Zimbabwean record pretty soon,” said Munyaradzi.
Tanatswa Chikotosa from Hillcrest College, who is looking at competing in national events this year, said it’s likely going to be an interesting season and yesterday she competed in the 150m Women Open and completed the race in 20seconds.
“So myself I was not really looking into racing today, I wanted to see my time since it’s a season-opener so it’s to see how fast I am now, so it’s to run against myself and to not look at the next person.
“It’s looking tough and I feel like it’s going to be a great year this year,” said Chikotosa.
After fielding a number of athletes in the season-opener, Yadah Athletics Club coach Mavhuto Tumba was satisfied with the competition.
“We were just trying to assess the areas we are supposed to correct so that they can be able to run fast times. I am looking forward to having junior athletes who are going to qualify for the World Junior Championships.
“So this was like a time trial to just correct some mistakes in terms of starts and other areas,” said Tumba.
Some of his athletes that took part in yesterday’s event include Takudzwa Chiyangwa, who came out tops in the juniors’ 150m in 15.80seconds, and Raymond Ngavi was first in the senior men in 15.69seconds.
Most of the top athletes targeting qualification for the Olympics are already deep into preparations. The likes of Itayi Vambe, Dickson Kamungeremu, Ngoni Makusha and Tatenda Tsumba have been training in South Africa since last month.
They were joined by the pair of Norman Mukwada and Dickson Kapandura, who are graduating from the juniors to seniors.