Zimbabwe’s top track and field star Ngonidzashe Makusha won the country’s first ever medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, on Friday.
Makusha leapt 8,29m in his first attempt to win the bronze medal. He came third behind 33-year-old American Dwight Phillips who won the gold medal with a season’s best of 8,45m.
Australian Mitchell Watt won the silver medal with a best jump of 8,33m.
Morocco’s Yahya Berrabah took fourth position with a best leap of 8,23m on his second attempt while South African Luvo Manyonga was fifth with a best jump 8,21m on his first attempt.
It was Zimbabwe’s first medal of the 2011 championships and a fine comeback by Makusha who failed to reach the final of the 100 metres early this week.
The multi-talented Makusha, who has a season best jump of 8,40 metres had qualified for the final after topping Group B with the fourth best leap of 8,11 metres in the qualifying rounds.
The national record holder in both the long jump and the 100 metres then got off to the best possible start with a first attempt of 8,29 metres which temporarily put him in the silver medal position.
Makusha could however not manage to improve on his first attempt leaping 8,29, 8,15m, 8,14m, 8,00m and 8,07m in his next four attempts before taking off way over the mark on his last attempt.
After such a brilliant performance on his debut at the world stage, the 24-year-old Florida State University student is now definitely a gold medal favourite at the Olympics in London next year.
The reigning United States National Collegiate Athletic Association champion in both the 100 metres and the long jump events will now link up with the other local athletes at the 10th All-Africa Games in Maputo.
Meanwhile earlier on Friday, Zimbabwean sprinter Gabriel Mvumvure finished a disappointing sixth in a time of 21,11 seconds in the qualifying heats of the 200 metres on Friday.
Only the top three in each heat would qualify for the semi-finals but Mvumvure, who also suffered the same fate in the 100m, continued to find the going tough.