Inter-Provincial Champs Delay a Boon for Athletes

NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe director, Lisimati Phakamile, says the postponement of Inter-provincial Championships to November will give athletes and the association time to get ready for the meet.

The national association had a virtual meeting last Friday to deliberate on various issues, with the inter-provincial championships, among the topical issues.

The meet was scheduled for the last weekend of this month in Bulawayo, but following last Friday’s meeting, they have agreed to move it to November.

“We set as the NAAZ executive and we agreed to move the inter-provincials to November, mainly because of the situation that is currently obtaining at this time.

“We agreed to move so that we give the association, and athletes, enough time to prepare considering the lockdown.

“We also noted that some of our facilities are not ready for use,” said Phakamile.

They have also asked their members to hold pre-competitions in their provinces as a build-up to the national event.

“We tasked Harare, Manicaland, Bulawayo and other regions to have their own competitions to try and have a dry run so that they try and drum some momentum, so that athletes are back in competition.

“We are hoping that, with the resumption of such services as the inter-city bus services, our athletes can travel to their training bases.

“We hope at the same time that athletes will be in good shape and condition to compete. Currently, we are in daily contact with the coaches in various areas.

“We are confident those guys are working, especially the targeted athletes, those we look up to for the World Juniors, the African Senior championships,” Phakamile said.

The national association have indicated they would want to, at least, hold two competitions before the end of the year.

And, despite the postponement of the inter-provincial event, which was going to be their first national competition, they are still optimistic they can stage another event in December.

For long distance runners, the athletics mother body were also hoping they can take advantage of the virtual international races to get some competition.

The association last month encouraged their members to participate in a virtual mass race launched by the World Athletics, and the local organising committee of the World Half Marathon, set for October 17. The initiative is meant to encourage runners around the world to run a half marathon, wherever they are, on the same days as the world’s elite runners will be competing in Gdynia, Poland.

Only Fortunate Chidzivo is expected to travel to Poland for the meet as part of her build-up for the Olympic Games qualifying competition.

This year’s edition of the Victoria Falls Marathon is also going to be virtual and Cuthbert Nyasango, the Athletes Commission chairperson, has urged fellow athletes to embrace the new norm.

“We have explained to the athletes about it but we haven’t received any feedback,” he said.

“Like, I said previously, they need a GPS watch which is a little bit tricky. Without it, it’s difficult to verify.

“But we cannot say they will not run because, maybe, some have already responded privately.”

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