Ellina Mhlanga in ASABA, Nigeria
NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe director for coaching, talent identification and development Lisimati Phakamile is convinced the country stands a good chance of matching their counterparts on the continent in relays after the 4x100m team finished fourth in the final here yesterday.
The curtain came down on the African Senior Athletics Championships at Stephen Keshi Stadium yesterday.
And Zimbabwe’s best performance at the meet was in the men’s 4x100m relay where they came fourth in 39.37seconds, behind winners South Africa, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
They slightly missed an opportunity for a medal. South Africa had a time of 38.25seconds, followed by Nigeria in 38.74seconds and Cote d’Ivoire in 38.92seconds. Zimbabwe’s team included rising stars like Ngoni Makusha of Successful Strides Academy, Tatenda Tsumba, Leon Tafirenyika and Dickson Kapandura.
Makusha joined the team for the finals replacing Rodwell Ndlovu, who had to leave early. Phakamile said although his team may have missed out on the medals they put up a good show which is a positive sign for the future.
“I think the 4x100m team performance was actually a very good performance first of all. And it was a perfect indicator to us as an association where we should focus our energies on and where we should try and pick medals from.
“It’s very clear that we need to work hard on the relays we have a very big chance, coming fourth overall in Africa it’s a very big indicator.
“And considering that we had two juniors (Tafirenyika and Kapandura) running two of the legs and the team came close to the national record of 39.10s, it’s actually a very good indicator and we need to refocus our energies and see where we need to pick the medals,” said Phakamile.
With the African Games scheduled for next year, Phakamile said the 4x100m and 4x400m relays will be a priority for the national association as chances of picking a medal in the two events are high.
“Definitely we are going to take a very big bias towards the relay teams for both the 4x100m and 4x400m.
“We now need to work on team building and also we need to work on strategising on how we can come up with those athletes and how we can prepare the relays very well towards the African Games that are coming next year. And towards the World Championships that are also coming next year.
“I see a very big possibility especially in the coming African Games, if you are to consider that the Africa Senior Championships usually brings in all sprinters in Africa and the same sprinters will be again at the African Games.
“I foresee our team picking a medal considering that now we would have worked on the team and we have brought in the specific sprinters for the relays,” said Phakamile. Kapandura had a good run in the 200m dash, making the semi-finals and managed to finish sixth in 21.36seconds.