Local athletes continue to miss out on international exposure following the National Athletics Association (NAAZ)’s decision to withdraw from this weekend’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
The pullout from the World Indoor Championships follows yet another withdrawal from last weekend’s Southern Region Cross-Country Championships held in Mauritius. NAAZ president Joseph Mungwari had earlier indicated his association was hoping to send four athletes to the World Indoor Championships.
United States-based athletes Ngonidzashe Makusha and Gabriel Mvumvure had already qualified for the event where they were expected to take part in the long jump and the 60m sprint respectively. The association’s president had also indicated he was hoping sprinter Francis Zimwara and middle-distance runner Faithful Goremusandu would meet the qualifying criteria. The duo, however, didn’t make the grade after failing to take part in any events on the IAAF Indoor Permit Meetings since January, which acted as a qualifying platform.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday Mungwari said: “We will no longer be sending athletes to the World Indoor Championships. Gabriel Mvumvure, who had qualified, has indicated to us he cannot travel to Turkey because of academic commitments.
“Ngoni Makusha has not been in touch with us, which has left us with no option but not to send any athletes.”
Concerning the other no-show at the Southern Region Cross-Country Championships held in Mauritius this weekend, Mungwari said they had decided to skip the event as a cost-cutting measure.
“We resolved not to send athletes at the Southern Region Cross-Country Championships so that we concentrate on the African Cross-Country Championships in Cape Town.
“Taking part in Mauritius would have resulted in more costs in sourcing air fares unlike Cape Town which is close by. In any case the African Cross-Country Championships are of a much higher level as compared to the Southern Region event as there will have all top athletes from the whole continent,” said Mungwari.
“The second African Cross-Country Championships will take place in Cape Town on March 18 and a field of top runners from all over the African continent is expected to compete in the prestigious event. Senior men and women will compete over distances of 12km and 8km respectively, while junior men and women will run 8km and 6km respectively.
Each country can have up to six athletes per category, making a maximum participation of 24 per country. NAAZ are expected to finalise the Zimbabwean team later this week.