Ellina Mhlanga Sports ReporterWHAT started as a promising year for Zimbabwe athletics turned into one of their most disappointing seasons which saw national teams missing out on podium finishes at major competitions such as the African Games.The year 2019 started on a high note with the 4x100m men’s relay team setting a new national record in Botswana in March that saw them qualifying for the World Relays in Yokohama, Japan, in May.
The team, made up of Dickson Kamungeremu, Tatenda Tsumba, Itayi Vambe and Ngoni Makusha, came first at the Lefika Athletics Club Relays and Hurdles event in Gaborone in 38.95seconds in March, setting a new national record in the process.The previous record was 39.16seconds set in 2007 at the African Games.
The relay team then went on to represent the country at the World Relays, which were also an opportunity for them to qualify for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
But they missed out on the opportunity after they were disqualified in the qualifying heats in Japan when Kamungeremu was ruled to have stepped on the line.
In a year that also had the African Games taking place, athletics received a major boost when they provided the largest contingent of athletes for the continental Games in Morocco.
It was a sign of confidence on the sport code that has previously contributed a number of medals at such events.But, it was not to be, as the 15-member athletics team failed to live up to expectations as they failed to even pick a single medal in Morocco.
Going into the event, NAAZ director of coaching, talent identification and development, Lisimati Phakamile, had expected, at least, five medals from his athletes, including the 4x100m relay team, as he felt they had done their homework.Although they could not get the anticipated results, there were some lessons picked.
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