Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
DESPITE acknowledging that they face a tough task at the IAAF World Under-20 athletics championships, Zimbabwe coach Silas Muringani remains optimistic they will acquit themselves well for the completion, which starts in Tampere, Finland tomorrow.
The championships are running until Sunday and Zimbabwe will be represented by Ngoni Chadyiwa, Norman Mukwada, Blessing Nyandoro, Leon Tafirenyika and Dickson Kapandura.
They were set to arrive in Finland yesterday led by Muringani, who will be assisted by Felix Kangai.
Muringani, who is also director in charge of junior development said there is need to be realistic going into this competition since they are on a revival path for the juniors.
“We are developing, remember we had a break when we had the likes of Michael Songore. But there was a sudden slump in the juniors.
“It will be good to proceed beyond first and second round and go the semi-finals. I am hopeful some of the athletes will reach the semi-finals.
“Leon and Ngoni, their times are well inside qualifying standards which means judging from the times they were running in the early season they are showing an upward progression. So there is actually an improvement in their times each time they take to the track,” said Muringani.
Chadyiwa and Tafirenyika will fight for honours in the 400m event while Mukwada is set to compete in the 400m hurdles. The trio will be joined by Nyandoro to make up the 4x400m relay team.
Kapandura is up for the 200m event.
Initially NAAZ had hoped to field seven athletes but United States-based Tinotenda Matiyenga, who was expected to join the rest of the team in Finland will no longer be part of the team due to visa complications.
They will also be missing Simbarashe Maketa due to school commitments.
The absence of Matiyenga and Maketa, who were part of the 4x100m relay team means Zimbabwe will no longer take part in the event.
“Matiyenga is out, so it means we have lost two people for the 4x100m relay team. So we are left with the 4x400m relay.
“This does not have much of a negative impact but maybe psychologically the likes of Matiyenga has experience and exposure. So his international exposure could have been a morale booster for other athletes,” said Muringani.
Muringani also expressed satisfaction with the way their training programme went and believes they are in a good position to compete.
The coach had the opportunity to assess the athletes in a competition set-up last week when they took part in the Mashonaland Central Athletics Board track and field championships to finalise their preparations.