National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe director-in-charge of junior development Silas Muringani has saluted the team that represented the country at the African Junior championships in Tlemcen, Algeria, after they picked nine medals.
The championships ended on Sunday with Zimbabwe claiming three gold, three silver and three bronze medals to settle for sixth place out of 14 countries that took part.
Rising triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya led the way with a new record leap of 16.30m for the junior championships while 100m sprint queen Gabri Mgbemna and the boys 4x100m relay team also scooped gold medals for Zimbabwe.
The boys relay team was made up of Dickson Kapandura, Tinotenda Matiyenga, Donavan Mutariswa and Kundai Maguranyanga. Matiyenga also got silver and bronze in the 100m and 200m while Maguranyanga got silver in 200m.
"Our athletes did very fine and we are proud of them. And this is a result of some investment that have taken place from the time these athletes were young.
"Remember we have these athletes in various competitions, the Cossasa and the other competitions that came in between. "And also the planning that has taken place with the national association where we have exposed our kids to a number of high level of competitions.
"Apart from the kids we also have exposed our coaches to higher level coaching experiences where we brought in a Germany mentor in August (last year) and we again brought sprints coach from Botswana.
"That is actually a culmination of such events that have led to such improved performances in the African Safari," said Muringani, who was one of the coaches in charge of the team.
Mapaya once again rose to the occasion with his 16.30m leap during the meet. It was a huge improvement from his previous best of 16.01m he posted during the Southern Region Senior championships last month in Harare where he claimed the country's only gold medal.
It also became the national record for junior men. The girls 4x100m relay team of Alice Augustino, Mgbemna, Kudzai Nyachiya and Mascline Watama were also not to be outdone as they got silver, coming second behind Algeria.
Mgbemna also took bronze in the girls' 200m and Nomatter Kapfudzaruva settled for bronze in the girls 400m. Muringani said besides the national association's efforts, they also owe their success to the coaches and schools that have been working with the athletes at their respective bases.
Parents and some companies also came on board to enable the national association to send a bigger team compared to the previous editions.
Zimbabwe had a team of 20 athletes. Ethiopia topped the medals table with 38 medals including 13 gold, followed by South Africa with 17.
NAAZ president, Tendai Tagara said such performance by the juniors is an indication of a bright future for athletics.
The team is expected back in the country today.