TEAM Zimbabwe’s athletics contingent for the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games is confident of harvesting more medals at this year’s edition of the event starting in Bulawayo next week.
After a morning training session at the National University of Science and Technology yesterday, coach Lisimati Phakamile said preparations for the games were progressing well.
“We are ready for the competition, though we are still expecting times to improve from those that we have from the previous events,” he said.
“This is not a good season for us because it’s early for athletics so the performance of athletes is not that good. We have to work very hard.
“As we are going to these games we respect South Africa in both, track and field events where they have been doing well before.” In the last edition, which was hosted by Zambia in 2012, the Zimbabwe athletics team got three gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Gold came from Sithulisiwe Zhou who won the women’s 800m, 1 500m and 5 000m and the two silver medals were won by Takudzwa Muchichwa with a record 2,11m in the men’s high jump.
Zhou won the 1 500m race in 4 min 39,50 sec beating Keneuoe Foloko of Lesotho who finished in 4 min 39,52 sec and Botswana’s Kefilwe Galeitsiwe who romped home in 4min 42,89 sec.
Her gold also came in the 5 00m event, which she finished in 17min 33,21 getting the better of Foloko who finished in 17 min 48,59 sec and Malawian Malita Phiri (18min 47,01 sec) Silver was also won in the men’s 4x100m relay while men’s 4x400m relay and Muchichwa in the 110m huddles won bronze medals for Zimbabwe.
Muchichwa jumped 2,11m, together with South African Craig Anthony Canham who went on to win gold by the virtue of having few trials compared to his Zimbabwean counterpart.
Zimbabwe will be banking on the experience of Buhle T Geza and Tsitsi Mahachi who took part in the previous competition.
The two specialise in 100m, 200m and relays.
In Zambia they failed to win medals with Geza coming fourth in the 100m race finishing in 12,63 sec. Phakamile said they are aware that for them to win medals they should work hard, using records set in 2012 to produce better times.
The men’s 100m final was won by Dludlu Mcebo of Swaziland in 11,46 beating Orben Muluti of Namibia and Anisio Baptista Cardoso Mozambique who finished in 12,24sec and 12,55sec respectively.