Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
THE Blanket Mine duo of Munyaradzi Zizhou and Mthokozisi Mhlanga have become the first two athletes to qualify for the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Four Minute Mile Challenge.
Zizhou and Mhlanga qualified at the recently held National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) inter-club competition at White City Stadium. The race is an annual men’s competition with a pre-requisite time of four minutes 31 seconds for one to qualify for the final that takes place at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Main Arena on the last day of ZITF.
Zizhou ran a time of four minutes 27.17 seconds while Mhlanga finished the race in four minutes 30 seconds in a field of five athletes. Bulawayo Athletics Board (Board) chairman Watson Madanyika said they are going to be holding a series of qualifiers as the ZITF dates approach.
“We had low numbers for the final last time as athletes struggled to qualify. We were just coming from Covid-19 so it was understandable why athletes recorded slow times. This year we expect more athletes to make the finals because l believe athletes are now back in shape and that should guarantee us some good times,” said Madanyika
A total of 12 athletes ran last year’s final. They were meant to be 13 but Tapiwa Chineka of Black Rhinos was unable to take to the field since he was representing the country in Botswana. Wellington Varevi came out tops. I
t was the third time that Varevi has won the race after he did so in 2014 when he was just 20 years old and 2018 at the age of 24.The 28-year-old crossed the finish line in a time of four minutes, 13.64 seconds, Nyasha Mutsetse was second in four minutes, 14.31 seconds and Nomore Wiriki was third in four minutes, 14.87 seconds.
Godwin Katakura went into the race with the best qualifying time of four minutes, 10.66 seconds but could only settle for fourth place in four minutes, 15.28 seconds. Varevi went home with a shield, hold medal, miniature trophy and ZWL$112 000. Mutsetse’s reward was $56 000, Wiriki pocketed $49 000 while Katakura went home $42 000 richer. The race is sponsored by Coca-Cola and its bottling partners in Zimbabwe, Delta Beverages. [email protected]