Mapaya’s last chance saloon

16 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Mapaya’s last chance saloon LEAP TO VICTORY . . . United States-based jumper Chengetayi Mapaya is one of the Zimbabwean athletes hoping to qualify to the Olympics at the Africa Senior Championships in Cameroon

The Sunday Mail

Tinashe Kusema

THIS week’s Africa Senior Championships will be former Zimbabwe triple-jump champion and record holder Chengetayi Mapaya’s last chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

But for some reason, the 25-year-old is being rather nonchalant about the meet, which will be held in Douala, Cameroon, from June 21 to 26. When pressed on his chances of punching a ticket to Paris, Mapaya gave a response that was the hallmark of a man fully confident in his abilities.

“Will I make the grade for the Paris Games? Is that even in question, man?” said the United States-based jumper.

“I will definitely be in France. After all, this is DU Airlines we are talking about.”

Mapaya’s name resurfaced last week as the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) announced their seven-member team for the trip to Cameroon.

The team comprises sprinters Ngoni Makusha, Tapiwanashe Makarawu, Donald Chiyangwa and Dennis Hove; 400 metres’ runner Gerren Muwishi; hurdler Ashley Kamangirira; and triple jumper Mapaya.

From the list, only Makarawu has already made the grade for the Paris Games and will use the African Championships as preparations for the global event slated for July 26 to August 11.

The rest will be in a race against time to qualify as the deadline for track and field events will have elapsed by June 30.

As it pertains to Mapaya, the US-based jumper is coming off a spell on the sidelines due to injury.

Coincidentally, it is the same injury that robbed the former Texas Christian University student the chance to make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games back in 2021.

“I actually have an injury that I do not really share with people as I am not a soft guy,” said Mapaya.

“I actually messed up my knee when I won my first NCAA Championship back in 2019, and have been getting injections and doing rehab periodically since then.

“In 2022, I almost had to let go my year to rehab, but I fought through the season and actually managed to win the national championship while in pain.

“I have what they call tibia/tibia instability, which means I have some joint instability in my knee and that is the injury I have had for quite some                                                                                          time.”

Rather than waste his energy on things he has no control over, Mapaya has opted to stay positive and focus on the job that lies ahead — the Africa Senior Championships.

The 25-year-old is set to make his debut at the continental track and field event.

“This is my first Africa Senior Champs and I am very excited; I haven’t been back to the motherland since 2019 and I am really looking forward to being back to Africa again,” he said.

“I have attended the Africa Junior Championships and, unless I’m mistaken, my record still stands.

“The goal will be to replicate that feat, win gold and qualify for the Olympics. I will have six jumps to do so, and one of them should surely do the job.”

Mapaya hopes to join some of his former compatriots in the US like Makarawu and Makanakaishe Charamba, who have already booked their tickets to Paris.

The duo, alongside Isaac Mpofu, Rutendo Nyahora and rower Stephen Cox make up Team Zimbabwe for the Paris Games.

Both the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee and NAAZ hope to add a couple more athletes to that number in Cameroon.

“Pressure makes diamonds and my focus right now is on having fun in Cameroon,” said Mapaya.

“In my years as a jumper, I have noticed that I am at my best when I am having fun.

“People have been asking me if I will be at the Olympics and all sorts of questions, but that is just outside noise. I feel good, I am excited and, hopefully, the rest will take care of itself.”

Share This: