Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
AGRIBANK head of strategy and marketing Joseph Mverecha has encouraged the Binga community to view sport as a career opportunity not just a past time, as many people make a living from it.
Speaking at the Binga Marathon where he was guest of honour on Saturday, Mverecha said: “Through sport, people have earned a living, some have qualified for employment in organisations like the military, so let’s be part and parcel of the sporting community. Let us be sport ambassadors, let’s preach sport. I want to encourage the Binga district community to take sport as a career. We have seen athletes such as Usain Bolt taking it to the global world and earn a living way above what the degreed and those with doctorates are earning. They have become more popular and honoured more than some prominent business tycoons we may think of.”
Mverecha said sport is also one way of countering non-communicable diseases that we now face locally and even globally, adding that those who participate in sport rarely face such health challenges.
“They are fit and strong and very alert even when tackling daily life challenges. A healthy nation is a developed and prosperous nation,” said Mverecha.
The theme of this year’s event was “Mitigating human and wildlife conflict-run to save your inheritance”.
“Binga is endowed with natural resources. It is a tourist district which attracts people from all walks of life to enjoy the natural resources so it is in this regard that we need to protect and live in harmony with our natural resources such as wildlife. It is therefore it is my appeal that this annual event of sporting excellence grows from strength to strength and reaches international standards,” said Mverecha.
Leonard Koki defended his Binga Marathon title, but failed to beat his 2018 time when he came home in 2 hours 55.59 minutes with Brightmore Mbombo second in 3 hours 44.28 minutes and Makomo’s Chaka Zihanzu third in 3 hours 43.16 minutes.
Also defending his crown was Hwange Athletics Club’s Phathisa Ngwabi, who completed the half marathon in 1 hour 24.40 minutes, relegating Emmanuel Muzamba to second place. Muzamba was home in 1 hour 24.58 minutes, with Willard Mutasa settling for third place in 1 hour 28.25 minutes.
Ever Mwembe was the first female in the 21km race in a time of 2 hours 2.39 minutes, with Selina Munenge coming second in 3 hours 1.12 minutes.
Only one female athlete, 45-year-old Jessie Mpande entered the full marathon, but could not finish the race after picking up a strain a few kilometres before the finishing line.
In the 10km race, Mathias Muyengwa was first in a time of 38 minutes 12.20 seconds, with Polite Mulenga coming second in 41 minutes 26.49 seconds. Coming third was 10-year-old Sympathy Mwinde, who surprised spectators when he trolled home in 41 minutes 44.14 seconds.
The event was graced by 1964 Olympian Robson Mulombe, who was the country’s first black athlete to compete at the Games.
Also in attendance was the Sports and Recreation Commission’s Matabeleland North co-ordinator Newman Masuku and his team.Meanwhile, Binga Residents Association chairman Luzibo Moyo hailed the organisers of the event and urged them to think outside the box in their endeavour to market Binga to the world.