THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe will stage their first Super 8 competition at National Sports Stadium in Harare today as they up preparations for the World Championships in Eugene (USA) and World Youth Olympics in Botswana.
The competition will see the top eight athletes in each event, according to the national association’s rankings, competing on their own while the rest of the participants will also have their competition.
NAAZ director of coaching, Talent Identification and Development Phakamile Lisimati, said the competition would be a cornerstone for a strong national athletics team as the association seeks to improve the sport, which has been lagging behind other sporting codes in the country.
“We felt it’s high time we had athletes who are known to make the job easier and effective for national team selectors as we will now be having a proper record for the best athletes in the country. They will be no room for complaints because I believe the teams will be chosen on merit,” he said.
However, Lisimati said some disciplines were likely to have less than eight athletes.
“Field events are likely to have very few athletes as has been the case in most of our competitions,” he said, adding that athletes who will be competing today were chosen from the NAAZ track and field events held throughout the country this season.
As for most juniors, the selection was done during the National Association of School Heads finals held in Marondera, said Lisimati.
“Athletes were drawn from the country’s 10 provinces and it is anticipated that there would be more than 200 athletes for the day for all the disciplines,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Bulawayo Athletics Board (BAB) will host a NAAZ track and field competition at White City Stadium today which will be part of the provinces’ preparations for the national youth games meant for athletes aged 20 and below in August.
BAB chairman Manuel Mpofu said athletes will compete in the usual events including high jump, which in the past had been excluded due to the unavailability of a mattress.
He revealed that the major highlight will be the Coca-Cola four minute mile qualifiers, which so far has only eight athletes having clocked the pre-requisite time of four minutes 31 seconds or better including the defending champion Simbarashe Chikadaga of Black Rhinos who qualified during the NASH finals in Marondera.
“We are hoping to have more athletes qualifying for the Coca-Cola Four minute mile to be held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds on 26 April. We are expecting more than 30 participants for the final showdown,” he said.