BY MAGRETH RUZVIDZO
ZIMBABWEAN sprinter Ngoni Makusha is on cloud nine after being presented with an opportunity to realise his childhood dream of taking part at the Olympic Games for the first time in his career.
The 100m and 200m specialist was at the weekend confirmed the recipient of a universal slot which the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) had been offered by the World Athletics due to failure by local athletes to meet the qualifying standards.
Currently no Zimbabwean has met the qualifying standard for the Olympics ahead of the closing date for athletics qualification on June 29.
However, Makusha, who had struggled to meet qualifying times, has been given an opportunity to represent the country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which will be held from July 23 to August 8 this year.
He is one of the three Zimbabweans who benefited from universal slots together with swimmers Donata Katai and Peter Wetzlar, while the duo of rower Peter Purcell-Gilplin and golfer Scott Vincent met the qualifying standards in their respective sports.
The Chitungwiza-bred sprinter is over the moon as the Olympics gives him the platform to develop his career.
“It will be my first Olympics and it’s a special moment for me. I’m definitely feeling glad, it has been my childhood dream to be at the Olympics, so I’m really excited as I have spent the past four years preparing and building up towards this,” said Makusha.
Makusha (26) shares the same name and surname with the 34-year-old USA-based national 100m and long jump record holder Ngonidzashe Makusha, who is now coaching University of California, Davis after hanging his spikes.
While the USA-based Makusha narrowly missed out on a medal in the long jump competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, his namesake will have to write his own piece of history next month in Tokyo.
Although he faces a tough task against some of the world’s leading sprinters, he said he was geared up for the event as it’s an opportunity he was eagerly waiting for years.
“I started preparations years ago, so I can’t say I’m not ready, I am just going there and giving it my level best and see where it takes me. I can’t predict how it will go but what I can promise is to give it my all,” he said.
“I have been training in South Africa, so the recent lockdown restrictions here at home haven’t affected me yet,” added Makusha.
Meanwhile, Makusha is also set to be part of Zimbabwe’s 4x100m relay team which still has an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics after being offered a slot in the MoC Relays to be held in Lagos, Nigeria from June 26 to 27.
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