Triple jump ace Mapaya targets world champs

Chengetayi Mapaya

US-BASED Zimbabwean triple jump star Chengetayi Mapaya has vowed to continue working hard in pursuit of his goal of becoming one of the world’s leading competitors in the sport after leaping to the world’s leading triple jump distance at the weekend.

Mapaya is currently riding on the crest of a wave after setting the new world-leading mark in triple jump this season in only his second event of the season at the New Mexico Collegiate Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the US on Saturday.

The 23-year-old former St Georges College student, who is on a scholarship at Texas Christian University, recorded an impressive 16,80m jump to win the triple jump event ahead of Andreas Pantazis from Greece (16,79m) and Belarusian Maksim Niastsiarenka (16,77m).

The record-breaking performance at the high-profile indoor meet earned him his second successive victory in as many weeks as he continues his remarkable return from a serious injury which prevented him from competing at the Olympic Games.

“It’s a special feeling to be number one in the world so far and it’s a blessing to be in this position and I appreciate it,” Mapaya said in an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday.

“I know this is a start and I’ve got to keep working as the season is still long. It’s a very long season ahead and I’ve got to stay consistent and keep working to get stronger every day.”

Mapaya said his main goal is to become one of the world’s best competitors in the field event and is relishing the opportunity of not only qualifying but competing for honours in major competitions such as the World Athletics Championships.

“My goals haven’t changed since I started triple jump and that’s to become one of the best triple jumpers in the world and for me to do that I have to compete in the premier competitions such as the World Championships. I want to not only qualify for this year’s World Championships do amazing at the actual event and put my name out there,” he said,

After his phenomenal performance at the weekend, Mapaya preserved his number one ranking in the highly competitive National Collegiate Athletic -Association (NCAA) in the US.

He was previously ranked first in the NCAA with his jump of 16,48m which he recorded last week at the Texas Tech Open — his first competitive meeting since suffering a hamstring injury which robbed him of what could have been a debut appearance at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Mapaya said the Olympic heartbreak and the work he put in to get back to his best has been the main driving force behind his impressive start to the season.

“Missing the Olympic Games because of injury and what I’ve gone through is something that I’ve used as a motivation to keep going. So I always think of my past and I make it drive me to become everyday knowing that I can be stronger,” he said.

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