Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe have secured a kit sponsorship for the upcoming IAAF World Championships with Japanese sportswear manufacturer, ASICS.
The sponsorship comes as a big boost ahead of the nation’s participation at this year’s IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar, from September 27 to October 6.
NAAZ president Tendai Tagara said the sponsorship will see ASICS dressing the team to represent the country at the event.
He, however, could not reveal the value of the sponsorship and insisted the finer details of the partnership will be concluded during the IAAF World Championships in Doha where the two parties are expected to have a meeting.
The first batch of the kit arrived last week and NAAZ are expecting to receive another consignment by the end of this week.
“The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe secured a kit sponsorship for the World Championships in September in Doha from ASICS, which is a global sports brand, ranking among the top brands like Nike and Adidas.
“The kit include joggers, competition spikes and shoes, tracksuits and competition kit. I am delighted that our team will wear a global brand at the global showcase. I know athletes will do their best to prove that they deserve the brand,” said Tagara. Zimbabwe had no official kit partners since 2015 when they severed ties with another Japanese company Mizuno.
Tagara said they started engaging ASICS in 2017 at the World Championships in London.
“I secured my first sponsorship in 2005 with Mizuno, as a national coach then, and it went on to last for more than 10 years. After the 2015 World Championships, Mizuno started to scale down on sponsorship for small teams and a number of them, including Zimbabwe, were affected.
“However, we had discussions in London in 2017 at the World Championships, which have culminated in securing this deal with ASICS.
“We want to thank Jun Mizushima the marketing manager for ASICS for facilitating the shipment. Part of the consignment of the kit is still at Zimra for clearance. We also want to thank Kohei Yamamura, who is the athletics coach at Bindura University of Science Education who also contributed in the linking and communication between us and Japan.
“You can see that the relationship between the association and Bindura University of Science Education goes beyond the housing of athletes at the academy, which is led by Titus Zvomuya.
“I always say to our athletes that we can only get a strong partner because of your performance, so they have been looking at our marathon runners and what they have been doing,” added Tagara.
So far long-distance runners Munyaradzi Jari and Rutendo Nyahora as well as triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya have qualified for the World Championships.
Qualification for the World Championships is still ongoing and Tagara said they are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope they will have more athletes making the times for the meet.
“Mapaya finished the college’s nationals in USA in great form by winning the nationals triple jump. Jari Munyaradzi and Nyahora Rutendo are all in devastating form. I am just hoping that one or two more athletes at the African Games will make it to Doha. “The 4x100m relay team can push themselves into the top six remaining slots and make it to Doha. I am happy that this year we have a field athlete after missing out in 2017,” Tagara said.