NAAZ braces for African Junior Champs

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THE National Athletic Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) has selected a provisional team for the African Junior Athletics Championships to be held in Ethiopia next month.

HENRY MHARA
Sports Reporter

The biennial tournament will run from March 5 to 8 in Addis Ababa.

NAAZ have so far identified 11 athletes who excelled in two qualifying competitions that were held in Bulawayo and Harare over the last two months. A third competition is set for the University of Zimbabwe this weekend where the final team for Addis Ababa would be picked.

National junior coach Silas Muringani yesterday released the provisional squad with emerging athletes such as youth Olympian Enlitha Ncube and triple jumper Brain Mada, making it on to the list.

The 16-year-old middle-distance runner Ncube is one of the finest upcoming athletes and would be using the Addis Ababa competition to prepare for the IAAF World Youth Championships to be held in Columbia this July.

Ncube — who in August last year took part at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China  — is the only Zimbabwean who has qualified for the world’s extravaganza.

She earned a ticket to Bogota after excelling at the Bulawayo African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games, where she finished the women’s 800m final in 2min, 12sec — two seconds below the IAAF qualifying time.

Together with Mada, they are the country’s medal hopefuls at the Africa Junior Championships.

Mada, a gold medalist at the AUSC Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games with an impressive leap of 15,65m, could have qualified for the Columbia event, but he would be overaged by the time the championships start.

Another athlete who was denied the trip to Columbia because of her age is Maryjoy Mudyiravanji, who won the gold medal in Bulawayo after finishing the 800m women race in 2.12:17sec.

Earlier in August at the China Youth Olympics, Mudyiravanji had clocked an impressive 2.09:33sec. She is in the team for Adis Ababa and would obviously be looking for a medal consolation at the event.