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Athletes in final push for Paris

The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) announced an 11-member team that will represent the country at the championships in Douala, Cameroon, from June 21 to June 26.

TOP Zimbabwe athletes will make a final push for places at the Paris 2024 Olympics as they compete at the 23rd Africa Senior Championships in Cameroon this week.

The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) announced an 11-member team that will represent the country at the championships in Douala, Cameroon, from June 21 to June 26.

Going into this competition, coach Lisimati Phakamile highlighted that the main goal is for athletes to qualify for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics, hence choosing athletes who were close to meeting their qualifying times.

So far, NAAZ has four athletes who have qualified for the Paris Olympics — marathon runners Issac Mpofu and Rutendo Nyahora together with sprinters Tapiwa Makarawu and Makanakaishe Charamba.

“We have picked up a very small team this time around to represent the country and there are basically few reasons for this. The first one, definitely being the financial challenges on the association’s side to carry a big team. Another important issue is that we identified athletes that are very close to Olympics qualification standards and hence we tried to sum up all our resources and take those athletes,” Phakamile said.

“If you look at athletes like Donald Chiyangwa, he needs 45.00 seconds to qualify for the 400m events.He is currently on 45.06 seconds. So we are trying to give him another opportunity to shed off that extra micro six seconds from his time. Also, triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya is close, as well as Tafadzwa Chikomba, who has got an 8,11m jump and is just chasing about 10cm more to make it to the Games. So, basically as an association, we felt that all these athletes be given another opportunity and attempt one more time.”

In the previous edition, the relay team managed to pick a bronze medal, something which Phakamile believes will give hope to come up with a better result at this event.

“We also identified a number of athletes who can team up as a relay team for both 4x100m and 4x400m. In the previous edition in Mauritius, we actually brought a medal from the relay team and we are hoping that this time around, we try and do better and improve the quality of the medal and at the same time qualifying for the Olympics through relays. We hope that these opportunities from our athletes will be fruitful and have one or two athletes qualifying and also picking up medals,” the athletes coach said.

“We believe that we have the quality that we need for medals and also that these athleles on their own are very motivated and geared up to attempt the 2024 Paris Oympics through their individual events.

“We have also tried to assist as an association and communicate with these athletes from their bases since the majority are coming from abroad and the association bought tickets from here for them to come through. The athletes have been also working with their individual coaches from their bases and are ready.”

Zimbabwe Team

Tapiwanashe Makarawu (100m, 200m and 4x100m), Takudzwa Chiyangwa (400m, 4x100m, 4x400m), Gerren Muwishi   200m, 400m, 4x400m) Dennis Hove (200m, 400m and 4x400m), Ngoni Makusha   (100m, 200m and 4x100m) Dicksson Kamungeremu (100m and 4x100m) Chengetayi Mapaya (triple jump) Tafadzwa Chikomba   (long jump), Ashley Miller (100m hurdles and 400m hurdles) Elizabeth Msipa   (100m and 200m) and Vimbayi Maisvorewa   200m and 400m

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