BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Zimbabwe men’s 4x400m relay team made history at the Lefika Athletics Club Relays and Hurdles Event in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday night after breaking a 12-year-old national record to qualify for International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays Championships to be held in Yokohama, Japan in May.
The quartet of Itayi Vambe, Ngonidzashe Makusha, Tatenda Tsumba and Dickson Kamungeremu came first at the international meet in 38.95 seconds to better the previous 4x100m national record of 39.16 set by Ngonidzashe Makusha, Gabriel Mvumvure, Brian Dzingai and Lewis Banda at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algeria.
Interestingly, Makusha, who is part of the current team and his namesake, who was part of the 2007 team are not related, even though they share the same name and surname. They are also both from Chitungwiza.
Zimbabwe’s relay team, which led the race from start to finish, each averaged 9.73 seconds over 100m on their way to victory ahead of the Botswana team of Keene Motukise, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Mothibi and Xolani Talane, which finished second in 39.01 seconds.
The qualifying standard for the 4x100m relay at the IAAF World Relays Championships is 39.10.
Former Zimbabwe sprinter David Tinago, who is coaching the team, said he was delighted with their winning time, as it sets them on course towards qualification for bigger events such as the IAAF World Championships and the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games.
“It really means a lot for the boys. They were focused on qualifying for the world relays since the meet in Botswana presented them with an opportunity to qualify for the global championships. It was such a good platform for them for that season, as well as their individual races and I believe the win and also managing to break the national record will give them the confidence to continue doing well ahead of the upcoming World Championships in Doha and Tokyo Olympic Games,” Tinago said.
“This will also motivate other upcoming athletes as well that they can achieve anything they want if they work hard and remain focused.”
Tinago said Makusha, Tsumba, Kamungeremu and Vambe, as the leading relay team on the continent, would head to South Africa for their next meet in Bloemfontein in two weeks’ time.