ZIMBABWE long jumper Paul Madzivire got his 2014 season off to an impressive start after capturing the long jump title at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Indoor Track and Field Championships in the United States at the weekend.
The US-based Madzivire, on a four-year scholarship at Florida State University claimed his second ACC title in three years with a season-best leap of 7,70m.
Madzivire, tipped to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, was one of Florida State’s top performers as he finished well clear of the long jump field which had 18 competitors.
With the win, Madzivire also qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Indoor Track and Field Championships to be held at the University of New Mexico from March 14-15.
“It feels great, especially to get a qualifying mark for nationals as well,” the 23-year-old former Gateway High pupil said.
“I was extremely nervous coming into this competition. There was a lot on the line and a lot of pressure. There are so many good jumpers out there and in the ACC there’s a lot of competition. Anything can happen.”
“This is the first meet where we actually come to and be a team. It’s so great that I have two other jumpers with me and we get to encourage each other, push each other and enjoy the competition.”
Madzivire edged North Carolina State’s Jonathan Addison (7,70m) with his second-best mark (7,62) settling the tie on his final attempt of the night.
Florida State, coached by former Zimbabwe Olympic hurdler Ken Harden, had a good outing in the long jump as Madzivire’s teammate Jalen Ramsey grabbed bronze with a leap of 7,45, with Stefan Brits 7,44 right behind him.
Madzivire, who is also an accomplished sprinter, is strongly tipped to follow in the footsteps of ex-star sprinter Brian Dzingai and former world bronze medalist, long jump star Ngonidzashe Makusha.
Both Makusha and Dzingai are former student athletes at Florida State University where they made their mark before entering the professional ranks.