Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
ONE of Zimbabwe’s leading athletes for the athletics team at the African Games, Ngoni Makusha, is oozing with confidence ahead of the track and field competition that gets underway today in Morocco.
Zimbabwe is fielding 15 athletes in track and field events.
Makusha was in Belgium together with Tatenda Tsumba as part of their preparations before meeting up with the rest of the team in Morocco last Thursday.
Tsumba was expected to join the team yesterday.
Makusha, who is expected to compete in the men’s 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay events said he had good preparations and is looking forward to the competition.
“It’s been going quite well. I prepared really well, I am feeling ready, I am healthy and fit. It’s a major competition, so I really prepared well for it.
“I participated in Belgium and the performance was good. I ran some good times and I feel I am going to head into the competition feeling confident because I learnt a lot in Europe.
“My target at the African Games is to make podium finish and run personal bests and qualify for the World Championships and Olympic Games,” said Makusha.
Lisimati Phakamile, who is leading the team together with Precious Tarakino as coaches, said they have been impressed with the athletes’ attitude.
“The athletes have been working very hard and performing very well in training. I am very positive that with this kind of attitude that we have and positive mentality with the athletes, our team is going to perform very well.
“I again reiterate being hopeful of a number of medals from the athletes. We have been talking to each other as athletes, one on one, as a team and we have set achievable targets, very smart goals with the team.
“Some of the goals and targets that we have set include setting personal best times, getting to the finals, winning medals and also having a positive mind towards the Games, the competition and looking ahead into the future that is the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Phakamile.
Phakamile said being one of the disciplines that provided a huge number of athletes for the Games, they are aware of the responsibility that comes with it.
“We are fully aware of the expectations from everyone who is supporting us that’s the country, our association, the parents of these athletes, the clubs and the athletes themselves.
“There is some pressure but pressure is part of the sport as a coach and as athletes we have to be able to absorb the pressure and focus and use that same pressure, that same anxiety to focus and bring out the aggression that we have on the track and on the field and win medals
“I want them to go out there, express themselves fully as far as athletics is concerned, as far as their events are concerned. I want them to represent their country with pride and I want them to perform very well and I wish them the best,” added Phakamile.
Phakamile said some of the events they are pinning their hopes on include the 100m, 200m, the 4x100m and 4x400m as well as the 400m hurdles.
The limelight will be on the likes of Tsumba, Makusha, United States-based Kundai Maguranyanga and Dickson Kamungeremu in the sprint events. There was a scare for 200-metre runner Maguranyanga who was down with a running stomach at the weekend but Team Zimbabwe’s medics were hopeful that he will “be fine” before he takes to the track tomorrow.
Triple jumper Dorothy Kavhumbura, who picked a gold medal at last year’s African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Games, and Prissy Mpofu are also expected to lead in the field events.