Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara is convinced the JM Busha Track and Field triangular series will breathe new life into the sport locally.
The series roared into life on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium B Arena with the first leg featuring participants from across the country.
The first two events will see athletes earning points and the top 16 will proceed to the final leg on May 25 as well.
Tagara said by having the top 16 at the final event means showcasing the best talent in the country and improving the quality of their competitions.
“It means we are following the IAAF route that we have grand prix, they are not for everyone. We reach a point where we say, we now want the elite.
“The top 16 means that we are showcasing the best athletes in 100m, 200m, 400m, all the events. That’s what we are saying now, this is the elite, these are the athletes in the league of running grand prix,” said Tagara.
Tagara was impressed with the turnout and is hopeful the second leg in Bulawayo on March 11 will be a success.
“As an association if we look at the participants, they are coming from private schools, colleges, tertiary institutions, the mix is very encouraging.
So we are happy with the turnout and the support we are getting from the uniformed forces, colleges and schools.
“It’s a turning point for athletics and as an association this is the beginning of our road towards the communalisation of the sport that we will be spreading around to the community,” said Tagara.
The NAAZ president said after partnering with the JM Busha 54 Races, the future for track and field looks promising.
“As an association we are very happy with the coming in of JM Busha 54 Races to support track and field. Again that there is an incentive in the track it’s a good indication that more athletes will come to the track. They have been shunning track because there were no incentives,” added Tagara.
The actual prizes for the winners in the finals are yet to be revealed.
NAAZ director of youth, Briad Nhubu, said such meets can be a good platform for identifying and nurturing promising athletes for future major competitions.
“Really this one is very big booster in terms of motivation of athletes, the coaches and even the parents because of late track and field event in Zimbabwe we didn’t have sponsors.
“This can actually give us very good performance from our athletes to represent us in regional, continental and international events,” said Nhubu.
For the juniors and youths, they are also taking advantage of the events to prepare themselves for qualification to the World Youth and Africa Junior championships later this year.