A DOMINEERING display in the throws had Namibia taking the pole position on the table of the Confederation of Southern Africa Schools Sports Association Track and Field Championships’ first day at the Setsoto Stadium on Thursday.
BY LOVEMORE DUBE IN MASERU, LESOTHO
It was indeed early warning shots for the competition which started on Thursday and ends on Saturday in the absence of Botswana and South Africa, hopes were high that Zimbabwe a powerhouse in schools sport would have it easy.
But it turned out to be a rude awakening for the boys and girls in both the Under-14 and 17 age groups as they found Namibia a hard nut to crack. The hosts Lesotho only began to show their competitiveness when attention turned to the track events’ 1,500m where they once again proved that they are a rising force in the region with a number of wins.
Energy Machingo of Chipezeze Primary School in Zaka had won Zimbabwe the first medal of the competition with a 31.73m throw in the girls’ Under-14 javelin event. She recovered from a poor start of 24.96m in her first t5hrow to close her account with a 31.73m effort that assured her of gold.
Second spot went to Danel Dreyer of Namibia with a throw of 28.56m relegating teammate Nell Diandra to third in 27.51m. “I am happy to have won my country its first medal. I am hopeful we will bag many more in the competition and finish at the top of the standings,” said Machingo.
Her teammates Pamela Mawire 26.21m) and Lynette Dliwayo were fourth and fifth respectively. Mawire who won the Nestle Zimbabwe nationals in Bindura last month could not stomach her defeat crumbling down to tears after the event affected very cold winds.
In a morning that started with so much promise for Zimbabwe on the field events, Givemore Magwaza landed Zimbabwe its second medal with a throw of 40.60m in the javelin contest for the boys’ Under-14s with Mweni Masunduza third for bronze after a throw of 36 metres.
Gold was scooped by impressive in throws Hubert Ludwig Hubert (44.36m) of Nambia who went on to win first position in discus and shotput. In the boys’ Under-17 javelin contest Horn Nico (58.24m) and Handre Klazinga (50.10m) both of Namibia won gold and silver respectively with Zimbabwe’s Rugare Mugazambi making sure Zimbabwe bagged a bronze to stay within sight of the South West Africa country.
In the same age group’s girls’ contest Nambia won gold through Deorette Van der Merwe with a throw of 40.67m. Zimbabwean girls pocketed silver and bronze through Milanda Mathe with a throw of 39.32m and Siduduzile Ndlovu 34.25m.
With action swinging to the track, the Zimbabwe Under-17 boys made a clean sweep of the 1,500m winning all three medals with Takunda Chawonza producing a powerful finish for gold with a time of 4 minutes 08.38 seconds. Gowdwin Moyo was second in 4 minutes 10.70 seconds and Kunakinte Siyakurima claiming bronze in 4 minutes 15.91 seconds.
The medals’ flow continued with Qhubekani Dube winning 4 minutes 34.67 seconds in the 1,500m with a second place finish going to Tsitsidzashe Kakono 94 minutes 40.69 seconds) and Eunike Kanane of Namibia taking bronze in 4 minutes 44.25 seconds.
In the track’s last event of the opening day Lovejoy Mapfumo ran a strong 400m hurdles to stake gold. His time was however not available at the time of going to print. At the end of business yesterday Namibia led the standings with 156 points with Zimbabwe second on 89 and the hosts 25.
Competition will continue this morning after the official opening ceremony. Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia failed to send teams to this year’s track and field championships due to a number of reasons.
The Zimbabwean team got a timely boost when a commuter omnibus full of supporters from Bulawayo Province, National Association of Primary School Heads arrived on Wednesday evening to give the athletes morale support.