Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE maintained their dominance of the Confederation of Schools Sport Associations of Southern Africa Championships that ended on Saturday in Harare as they retained the title for the third consecutive year.
The regional competition targets Under-13s, Under-15s, who competed for the first time, and Under-17s.
Four countries — Botswana, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe — participated. And the hosts claimed 95 medals — 40 gold, 26 silver and 29 bronze to top the medals table.
National Association of Secondary School Heads head-in-charge of athletics, Philip Chikomwe, was pleased with the results.
“The final tally of the results indicates how prepared we were and we outclassed Botswana and Namibia. They could not compete with us on the last day.
“I would like to say we are improving in our level of preparedness. We expected Botswana to give us a tough time but they failed to meet our standards in the track where they are very good.
“And Namibia also, they were good in field events, they dominated us for the past four years but we have made inroads in the field events. We got about 10 to 15 of our gold medals from field events,” said Chikomwe.
Namibia were second with 75 medals and they were followed by Botswana who got 69 medals.
Malawi managed only one gold medal to finish on fourth position.
Zimbabwe have won the championships four times including in 2011.
Chikomwe said it’s now up to the national association to bridge the gap that have seen some of the talent being lost after the athletes graduate from the school system.
“I think as Nash we are doing our part in developing the athletes. But there is a gap, the athletes are finding it difficult to find clubs where they can continue to train and compete.
“So we are calling other stakeholders, particularly the national association, to ensure there is continuity to take these athletes and continue to monitor and exposing them to more competition.
“If NAAZ establish academies for different provinces where these athletes can continue to be exposed to competition, it can help bridge the gap,” said Chikomwe.
The championships were held over three days at the National Sports Stadium.