BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWEAN track and field star Chengetayi Mapaya enhanced his growing status as one of the world’s emerging top triple jumpers after storming into the top 10 of the world’s leading indoor jumps this season following a superb display at the Texas Tech Shootout in the US on Friday.
The 20-year-old student athlete, who is on a track and field scholarship at Texas Christian University (TCU), finished second in Lubbock, Texas, with a monster jump of 16,65m, the fourth best indoor US collegiate jump this season and the ninth on the list of the world’s leading jumps this year.
Mapaya’s leap on Friday also saw him breaking his American teammate Scotty Newton’s TCU indoor record of 16,63m from last year’s Big 12 Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Mapaya said he was delighted with his massive leap, but was not getting carried away just yet and would continue working hard as he aims to qualify for this year’s IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha.
“Honestly speaking I’m humbled to have made this jump. I’m very delighted with this achievement, but I’m also very well aware that its still early in the season to celebrate,” he said.
“There is still a lot more in my tank and i just got to stay focused and work harder that ever as this is just another step to qualify for the World Championships in Doha.”
The former St George’s College student is now closing in on legendary retired Zimbabwean triple jumper and former African record holder Ndabazinhle Mdlongwa’s long-standing national indoor record of 16,89m set in January 1998.
Mapaya has been on a steady rise in the US and last year capped off a memorable debut season at TCU by earning First-Team All-America Honours at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Eugene, Oregon.
He managed to finish in the top three at almost every meet he competed in for TCU, including the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, Texas Relays, and UF Tom Jones Memorial.
Prior to his move to the US, Mapaya won the gold medal in the triple jump at the African Junior Championships achieving a meet record of 16,30m.
In order to qualify for the championships, Mapaya jumped 16.01m to win gold at the 2017 Southern Region Championships, having bagged another gold medal at the 2016 African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Youth Games.
The former Annual National Sports Awards Junior Sportsman of the Year silver medallist will now be aiming to qualify for the 2019 IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar, from September 28 through to October 6.
The qualifying standard for the triple jump event at the global event is 16,95m.