Mapaya switches focus

08 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Mapaya switches focus

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema
Deputy Sports Editor

THE sight of an inconsolable Chengetayi Mapaya getting wheel-chaired off the track as he clutched onto his leg at last year’s NCAA outdoor championships was enough to make even the cold-hearted drop a tear or two.

The then-Texas Christian University (TCU) junior was on his fourth attempt and hoping to make the standard and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo a few months later.

Unfortunately, somewhere between his run-up and landing, the 23-year-old pulled a muscle and had to be helped off the pitch.

It was later revealed he a had a partial tear on his hamstring and would need somewhere between eight to 10 weeks of rehabilitation.

Mapaya posted a clip on his WhatsApp status of the incident, accompanied by the simple caption, “God gives his battles to his strongest Warriors,” soon after his hopes of a debut appearance at the global sporting showcase had gone up in smoke.

As if that was not enough, it was soon revealed that he was one of the favourites to land the universality slots that ended up going to swimmers Donata Katai and Peter Wetzlar and sprinter Ngoni Makusha.

Eight months later, Mapaya looks well on his way to finally making his Olympics dream come true.

The TCU senior was among 10 athletes awarded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Solidarity Paris 2024 scholarships, an initiative that is sure to be a shot in the arm in his bid to qualify for the Games.

Through the support of the IOC, the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship funding offers assistance to National Olympic Committees for direct athlete support towards preparation and qualification for the Games.

The 2024 Summer Olympics, officially known as The Games of the XXXIII Olympiad or simply Paris 2024, are scheduled for the French capital from July 26 to August 11, 2024.

And Mapaya couldn’t be more thankful for the timely boost.

“I knew of the Solidarity scholarship a while ago and decided to apply for it after talking to NAAZ (National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe) president Tendai Tagara,” said Mapaya.

“I won’t say I was shocked to get it because I feel I worked very hard to be in the running and these are just the products of the grind.

“I will, however, say that I am extremely grateful.

“Getting the scholarship is definitely a blessing and I am very grateful and appreciative. This is just a stepping stone towards my dream of competing at the Olympics, and I intend to work even harder so it is not wasted on me.”

For the ordinary man, a move like this would surely conjure up memories of the past, which in this particular case is the injury.

But, Mapaya is no ordinary man.

Yes, the triple jumper still carries mental scars of the injury but rather than let it peg him back, he uses it as motivation.

“I don’t really have bad memories from the injury but the mental scars are there.

“The mental scars drive me to do better and be a better person and athlete.

“I am going to keep working hard until I reach my ultimate goal, which is to turn professional and compete at the Olympics.”

Before that, he has some unfinished business at TCU.

With graduation just around the corner, Mapaya hopes to wrap up his time as a TCU frog in the only way he knows best, and that is to do it big.

He intends to break every record and leave a lasting legacy at the institution.

He recently wrapped up his indoor commitments with a third-place finish at the 2022 NCAA Division One Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships in Atlanta in March.

The Zimbabwe triple jump champion and record holder seems to be getting his groove back, as he has already made significant jumps this season.

“The indoor season went down pretty well; I came third at the nationals.

“At some point in time, I jumped 16,80m, which was one of the leading marks in the world.

“I finished the indoor season ranked number 12 in the world and I guess that is pretty good.

“My injury is healing well and it looks like I just have to keep doing my rehab.

“I am close to my optimal shape, though I can’t say I am back to full fitness just as yet.

“I am able to fly, and it will probably take a bit more time to be back soaring again.”

Since the scholarship announcements were made, Mapaya has barely had time to let the significance of the move sink in because he also has more pressing targets in mind.

“I am yet to compete in the outdoor season, but my main priority remains to break records and leave my mark at TCU.

“I already have a bunch of TCU records in the bag, but the main goal, going into the outdoor season, is to break my old TCU record and then the national record.

“As far as the scholarship is concerned, I am yet to get a breakdown of what it entails, but I am confident it will come in handy after school when I start competing professionally.”




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