ZIMBABWE’S junior athletes will have the last chance to qualify for next month’s International Association of Athletics Federations World Junior Championships at the inter-provincial championships that end today in Bulawayo.
The World Championships will be held in Eugene, US, from July 22 to 27. Only two athletes have qualified and the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) is racing against time to reach their target of 12 they intend to send to Eugene.
Middle-distance runner Enrita Ncube qualified from the Cosassa Games held in Botswana in May while sprinter Michael Songore made it from last month’s Botswana inter-provincial championships.
Naaz president Tendai Tagara conceded they were pressed to have more athletes contesting in Eugene and the association has forced them to hire an electronic timer from Botswana.
“We want to field both boys and girls’ relay teams in 4x100m and boys’ 4x4m,” Tagara said.
“We want 12 athletes because we are looking at the future. Most of these athletes are under the age of 18 and that is the future we have.”
The boys have to meet the qualifying standards of 10,55secs and 21,50secs in 100 and 200m respectively, while the girls’ bar has been set at 11,90secs for 100m and 24,50secs for 200m. Middle-distance runners will battle to fit into the 1:50,50mins grade for 800m and 3:48,00mins in the 1 500m event by the July 15 qualification deadline.
Getting a reprieve at the Bulawayo meet are middle-distance runners Maryjoy Mudyirawanje and Tendai Zimuto who came close to qualifying when they took part in the Confederation of African Athletics Southern Region junior championships last month.
Other hopes are pinned on 800m athlete Nyasha Mutsetse, 400m hurdlers Pride Musinga, Yvonne Vanhuvaone and Ruvarashe Muzinde who last year competed at the World Youth Championships in the Ukraine.