National youth and junior athletics teams head coach Briad Nhubu has expressed confidence in the athletes to represent the country at the African Under-18 and Under-20 Championships starting tomorrow in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and is banking on their shape.
The competition is running until Saturday.
Zimbabwe are fielding 11 athletes in the Under-20 (junior) boys and girls as well as the Under-18 (youth) girls section.
The team will be spearheaded by the likes of Vimbai Maisvoreva and Donovan Mutariswa, who were at the 2017 IAAF World Youth Championships as well as Privilege Chikara, who represented the country at the Youth Olympic Games last year.
The team travelled in batches with eight athletes having left on Saturday morning and they had their first training session yesterday while the other three are expected in Abidjan today. Earlier on, the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe had indicated they were hoping to send more athletes but due to financial constraints they ended up with 11 athletes. "We managed to train this morning (yesterday) and all eight are in good shape. We didn't manage to get to the competition area since its still being worked on.
"We so far have five girls and three boys. We look forward to two more girls and the boy from South Africa to have a total of 11. Unfortunately some failed to secure air tickets. So the number has reduced to 11," said Nhubu.
Nhubu said they are relying more on what the athletes have been working on with their coaches in their respective bases since they did not have the chance to meet before their departure.
"Of course we would have loved to have more time. However, we also appreciate the fact that the athletes have been going through exams which is an important aspect in their development as well.
"So we bank on what they have been doing at their bases. Fortunately it's just a short while since we had the national (schools) finals where all these athletes had proved to be fit and geared for the continental meet," said Nhubu.
NAAZ president Tendai Tagara said they are grateful to different stakeholders including parents who weighed in to assist in making the trip possible.
"I want to thank parents for the support they have given to us bearing in mind the economic situation and airlines are demanding US dollars which is the major dilemma we are facing.
"We are paying for three athletes and the coach, so we are paying for four people to travel. But majority it's either parents, non-governmental organisations or schools that have chipped in. Those are our major funders for this trip," said Tagara.
In the previous edition Zimbabwe had a 22-member team that picked nine medals and Tagara said they are banking on the experience from some of the athletes that have been to major events before.
"We have Vimbai Maisvoreva, she was at the IAAF World Youth as well as Donovan Mutariswa. We also have Privilege Chikara, who went for the Youth Olympic Games. So that experience helps the team because they have been there before.
"If you look at the preparations, the schools' system presents a perfect platform, that's why we waited for schools to participate in the schools' competition, it's the best platform," said Tagara.
Junior Boys: Donovan Mutariswa (100m, 200m), Wadiwanashe Musonza (400m), Takudzwa Mangwiro (long jump), Ronald Chibowora (triple jump).
Junior Girls: Vimbai Maisvoreva (400m, medley relay), Dorothy Kavhumbura (200m, triple jump, medley relay), Masciline Watama (100m, 200m, medley relay), Prissy Mpofu (long jump, medley relay).
Youth Girls: Elizabeth Msipa (100m,200m), Nontokozo Ncube (400m), Privilege Chikara (800m).