Former Junior Sportsman of the Year Nelton Ndebele is among the best sprinters to have emerged from the country over the years.
His passion and determination have seen him scaling to greater heights and he looks set to achieve more.
The sprinter has set his sights on the All-Africa Games to be hosted by Mozambique this year and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The annual Permit Meeting Championships which featured Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe is where Ndebele was to make his mark as a top athlete on the international scene.
Born on June 6 1985 at Pelandaba Clinic in Bulawayo, Ndebele started off his interest in athletics when he was at Ingubo Primary School. He later moved to Ndarama High School in Masvingo.
“I started taking athletics seriously when I was at high school. I started running at national and provincial level,” he said.
After high school Ndebele moved back to Bulawayo where he started training with top athlete Lewis Banda.
“When I was at school a certain teacher gave me money for transport because there was a competition in Zvishavane. She had the belief that I could do it,” he said.
That was to be the beginning for Ndebele to prove his mettle in the local and international scene.
“When I went to Shabanie Mine in Zvishavane I ran the 400-metre race in a time of 47,34 seconds which was a good time as I ran better than some seniors when I was a junior,” he said.
Ndebele was soon to catch the eyes of clubs like Gaths Mine, Shamva Mine, Bindura Mine. The athlete opted for Gaths Mine under the eye of Percy Ngwenya.
“I opted for Gaths Mine. I believed in coach Ngwenya. There was also another good athlete, Chrispen Mutakanyi, who was running the 800-metre race. I only stayed there for three months, “he added.
Ndebele moved back to Bulawayo’s Sprinters Athletics Club.
“I decided to go there because it was the best club in the country at that moment. It had the likes of Lloyd Zvasiya, Kundai Senguza and Gordon Tauya,” he said.
He had proved that he was the best athlete in the country as he was chosen to represent Zimbabwe in the Zone six Games that were in Maputo, Mozambique.
“I took part in the 400-metre race. I did the first heat and I came second after a South African in a time of 47:50 seconds. It was a close call because we had recorded the same time. But he came first because his head crossed the line first,” he said.
Ndebele also represented Zimbabwe in the 4 x 400-metre race where his team walked away with a bronze medal.
He also represented the country in the Senior Southern Region Championships in Zambia. Ndebele scooped bronze and silver medals in the 110-metre and 400-metre hurdle races.
His success was not to go unnoticed in 2004 as he was crowned the Junior Sportsman of the year.
“I felt great when I was crowned the Junior Sportsman of the Year. What I had wanted all my life was coming.
I used to watch Michael Johnson and Maurice Greene and this had inspired me to take my athletics seriously,” he said.
His memorable time is when he had an eye infection on their way to Namibia for the Permit Meetings.
“I had an eye infection. The doctor had to bandage it. However, it was a good race as I got a time of 46:80s in the 400 metre race. When we went to Botswana I came second in a time of 46:55s,” he said.
Ndebele has over the years represented the country in many races.
Last year he moved to Namibia’s Winners Athletics Club after an invitation from Seun Karuba whom he had met during the Permit Meetings.
This season, Ndebele shifts base to South Africa where he will train alongside Talkmore Nyongani at Pretoria University.