University of Oregon’s Hayward Field is the theatre in which five Zimbabwean teenage athletes will perform their acts from Wednesday to Sunday at the Iaaf World Junior Athletics Championships.
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The track juniors are on a quest to shape their destiny with the chief mission being gathering international experience required to qualify and compete for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Sprinters Michael Songore, Kuda Nyahuma, Shingirai Hlanguyo and Pride Lusinga as well as middle distance runner Enlitha Ncube will represent Zimbabwe at the Games.
From the Hayward Field terraces, Songore would be cheered in his 200meters race and 4x100meters relay contest by his mother Caroline whom he left the country with last Thursday.
It will be a return to the world stage for Songore who last year participated at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine where he competed in the 100meters but could not reach the final.
In 200meters, he boasts of a personal best time of 21.26seconds which he clocked at the 2013 Botswana National Championships and will this time around also lead the 100meters relay team.
The relay team also includes Nyahuma, Hlanguyo and Lusinga while the later will also participate in the 400meter hurdles.
Ncube is the only female athlete of the five and the championships will afford her preparations for next month’s Youth Olympics to be staged in Nanjing, China.
She left the country yesterday afternoon together with Nyahuma and Lusinga as well as their coach Silas Muringani, team manager Enias Nhoro and Cynthia Khumalo their chaperon.
Hlanguyo is in South Africa sorting out his visa and will fly to Eugene on Tuesday.
Lusinga would be the first to plunge into action on Wednesday when he competes in the 400meters heats.
“I am ready for all my races. I have been training for the past two months and I want to do best for my country. Hopefully I will reach the finals,” said Lusinga.
Lusinga’s personal best is 52.60seconds attained at the Potcheftstroom Championships earlier this year in South Africa where he qualified for the Eugene meet.
Ncube begins her 1500 meters heat on Friday morning before the relay team race in the afternoon with Nyahuma declaring readiness.
“I have trained long and hard for this competition and I am expecting to do well together with my team. I am very confident of finishing well and we just have to remain calm,” said Nyahuma.
The team arrives in Eugene without having camped due to the athletes’ high school commitments as well as financial challenges that saw other nine athletes who had qualified being dropped.
Coach Muringani has watered down high expectations on the teenagers, emphasising that focus was on development rather than medals.
“We do not want to put these kids under pressure,” said Muringani.
“We are not looking for medals but want them to set new personal best times. Medals would be a bonus though. They are at a developmental stage so this is a platform for them to experience what it takes to become a star.”