Collin Matiza, Harare Bureau
FOUR of the country’s top sprinters Dickson Kamungeremu, Ngoni Makusha, Tatenda Tsumba and Itai Vambe will this weekend come under the international spotlight when they compete in the IAAF World Relay Championships in Yokohama, Japan.
This is the first time that Zimbabwe will be represented at the World Relay Championships.
Kamungeremu, Makusha, Tsumba and Vambe earned themselves a ticket to this prestigious event when they set a new 4x100m national record after coming first in 38.95 seconds at the Efika Athletics Club championships in Gaborone, Botswana, towards the end of March this year.
This saw the quartet bettering the previous 4x100m national record of 39.16 seconds set by Ngonidzashe Makusha, who is now based in the United States and not related to his namesake who is in the current team, Gabriel Mvumvure, Brian Dzingai and Lewis Banda at the 2007 All-Africa Games (now African Games) in Algeria.
Their winning time in Gaborone was the second fastest time in the world this year and it helped them to punch their tickets to the 2019 IAAF World Relay Championships which gets underway today with the qualifying heats before tomorrow’s finals in Yokohama.
According to the start-list of today’s qualifying heats, Zimbabwe are in Heat Two where they will come up against France, Italy, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey.
And Zimbabwe are fancying their chances of qualifying for tomorrow’s finals.
Speaking to The Herald from Yokohama yesterday, one member of the Faithwear-sponsored Team Zimbabwe, Makusha, said they were raring to go and “everyone in the team is feeling good and confident”.
Zimbabwe are one of four African coluntries that have qualified for this year’s World Relay Championships where they will be joined by Botswana, who they beat into second place at the Efika Athletics Club Championships in Gaborone, South Africa and Nigeria.
South Africa qualified for this year’s World Relays with a time of 38.88 seconds although their national record in the 4x100m is 38.24 seconds.
Botswana qualified with a time of 39.01 seconds.
Nigeria qualified with a time of 40.21 seconds, however, their national record stands at 37.94.
The four African countries will be joined by 22 other nations that have qualified for the 4x100m relay at this year’s World Relays and it will be interesting to see how they will fare as they seek to secure their places at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, in September.
Only 10 World Championships places will be available among the 26 participating teams at this weekend’s meet in Yokohama and there’s still plenty of scope for surprises.
The Zimbabwean team go into this weekend’s meet in Yokohama ranked seventh in the world from a strong pool of 26 countries after having posted a time of 38.95 seconds in Gaborone in March, which was also a new national record for the country.
They are under the guidance of coach David Tinago.
Meanwhile, promising Zimbabwean athlete Panashe Majuru, who is a 400m specialist and a 110m hurdler, is scheduled to leave the country next week to compete in five high profile track and field meetings in The Netherlands and Belgium this month and in June.