The Zimbabwe athletics team is convinced they have covered most of the groundwork after completing a month-long camp at a High Performance Centre in Pretoria, South Africa, in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games qualifying competitions.
The camp attended by six athletes -- Tatenda Tsumba, Dickson Kamungeremu, Ngoni Makusha, Itayi Vambe, Norman Mukwada and Dickson Kapandura -- was facilitated by the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee to support athletes with the potential to qualify for the Olympic Games.
With the Olympics qualification in its final stretch, the athletes are hoping they can get the qualifying times as early as possible.
The camp was mainly for the sprinters and 100m runner Kamungeremu was satisfied with the time they spent in South Africa.
"Preparations were good and we did benefit a lot as our programmes were on point and even our diet was on point. We were using world class equipment and also the training environment was for world class athletes and this really motivated us to work hard as well.
"It was really helpful as I got the experience to train at world class environment and also my mind was focusing on one goal. I had a routine which I followed every day and also I was being monitored day to day," said Kamungeremu.
The athletes are now shifting their focus to actual competition starting next month. They have a number of events they are considering, including the South African Grand Prix.
The major goal for this year is qualification for the Olympics to take place in Tokyo, Japan, from July 24 to August 9.
"We are now getting into the competition phase. I am just praying that I will not have any injuries and to stay in shape. Our first race is going to be in February. I am hoping to open (my season) with a fast time in the 100m as the window period for qualification for the Olympics is short.
"So our plan is to qualify as early as we can," said Kamungeremu.
He noted that another camp during the competition phase will be ideal so that they remain on top of the game.
Promising star Mukwada, who has just graduated from the juniors, was also excited to be part of the team. He is keeping his head high ahead of the upcoming events.
"I gained momentum and experience and I am focusing on 400m hurdles. The camp involved working on new techniques and it was helpful because I have gained experience in terms of hurdle clearance and improved my techniques.
"I am happy to compete at senior level. I am going to compete in many competitions such as the Senior Championships in Algeria.
There are competitions in Botswana as well as the NAAZ track and field events. And I am targeting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, it is my vision to be there," Mukwada said.
NAAZ director for coaching, talent identification and development Lisimati Phakamile, who was one of the coaches accompanying the athletes, said they would want to have another camp after a couple of races.
"We wish to have another camp after we attend a number of competitions in South Africa and Zimbabwe and in the region where we are going to check and see what we did.
Then after that we come back again and regroup, do our corrections and work again as a team so that we produce the required qualifications and results this year.
"The arrangements regarding continued training is that the team will stay intact. The team will stay together, we travel to competitions as a group, we monitor the performance and like I said around April we regroup again for another camp.
"And we look at what we have done, the times we would have produced, the performances, any improvements and anywhere we need to look at or panel beat. We then go back to the drawing board and work on it," said Phakamile.
The team returned home on Monday.