National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe are set to intensify their preparations for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games qualification when they regroup in Bulawayo for their second training camp set for next month. With the African Youth Games also scheduled for next year in Algeria. They will be the qualifying event for the Youth Olympics to be staged in Argentina in October and the athletics mother body is already working on ensuring their athletes are ready to battle it out for qualification.
The association's director in charge of youth Briad Nhubu told The Herald the camp is expected to run from December 1 to 10 and comes after the first one held in Harare last month. Nhubu said after working on areas such as strength training and the general conditioning of the athletes, they are going a gear up when they regroup in Bulawayo.
"Basically the first meeting we were looking at preparation and during the preparation phase with most of these youths we want to look at the aspect of strength training and endurance, then the general conditioning, exercising so that they remain in shape. We now want to assess whether they have acquired these aspects so that we can now work on speed endurance and maybe tactical approach," Nhubu said.
He said they are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to see their athletes making the cut come next year.
"We will also take that opportunity to work on mental preparedness. According to the rules of YOG, as Africa we qualify on slots, so if our athletes don't fight to win in Algeria, it means we might not qualify for the Youth Olympic Games. We are saying let's also work on mental preparedness so that they target to won," added Nhubu.
The athletics mother body have already indicated they are targeting to have at least 10 athletes for the Games. Some of the athletes that attended the first meeting include Simbarashe Maketa, who was part of the 4x400m relay team at the IAAF World Under-18 championships in Kenya, as well as Nicholas Schmolke who participated at the African Championships in Algeria.
The NAAZ director in charge of youth is looking forward to another fruitful meeting after most of the shortlisted athletes turned up for their camp at Prince Edward. And he is hopeful they will make the grade for the Games during the qualifying event.
"It was a just a weekend camp, we had invited 14 athletes who were shortlisted for the Youth Olympic Games.
Fortunately for the group I think we only had one who is based in South Africa who did not turn up.
"But the rest turned up and they were accompanied by their school based coaches. I think our preparations right from the school-based programmes such as the Nash championships and Cossasa it's bringing us good results in that athletes are getting some good training from grassroots.
"So there are chances we can have more athletes qualifying but we are still working on scouting more athletes, especially in the middle and long distances," said Nhubu.