Zimbabwe: Zim Athletes Shift Focus to Olympics

7 October 2019

Athletics coach for Team Zimbabwe at the IAAF World Championships, Lisimati Phakamile, remains optimistic of the future despite a difficult outing for local athletes that took part at the global meet which ended yesterday in Doha, Qatar.

Zimbabwe had five athletes -- four long-distance runners and one triple jumper competing in Doha.

Their last event was the men's marathon in which the trio of Ngonidzashe Ncube, Munyaradzi Jari and Isaac Mpofu took part in. All the three athletes finished way out of the top 20.

Competing at the championships for the first time, Ncube was the first Zimbabwean to cross the finish line in 2 hours 18 minutes 42 seconds to settle for position 34. Jari and Mpofu came number 47 and 52 respectively.

Jari posted a time of 2 hours 23 minutes 34 seconds and Mpofu completed the race in 2 hours 29 minutes 24 seconds.

The race started just before midnight on Saturday due to the harsh weather conditions in Qatar and Phakamile said the fact that they managed to complete the race was encouraging.

"They tried their best, all of them managed to finish the race . . . The environment was harsh and the men showed great strength in holding up the pace up to the last kilometres of the race," said Phakamile.

Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa claimed gold when he clocked a season's best of 2 hours 10 minutes 40 seconds. His fellow countryman Mosinet Geremew took silver in 2 hours 10 minutes 44 seconds and Kenya's Amos Kipruto settled for bronze in 2 hours 10 minutes 51 seconds.

Out of the 73 starters, 55 completed the race and 18 failed to finish.

The other athletes that represented Zimbabwe at the global meet are Rutendo Nyahora, who was number 21 in the women's marathon, and triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya. Mapaya finished 25th overall in his event with a leap of 16.36m on the first day of the competition.

Most of the athletes are now shifting their focus to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Game qualification and Phakamile is convinced that after their participation in Doha, they are in a good position to meet the qualifying standards.

"If we are able to run tactfully and finish races in such conditions, I believe we can be able to perform very well in normal conditions and qualify.

"We plan to step up our preparations. We have lined up training sessions and competitions to help in that regard," said Phakamile.

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