Source: The Herald – Breaking news.
Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
ISAAC Mpofu underlined his status as one of the leading athletes in the country after scooping the 2023 National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe Athlete of the Year Award at a ceremony held in Harare yesterday.
The long-distance runner also claimed the Senior Men Athlete of the Year gong ahead of United States-based sprinter Tapiwanashe Makarawu and Bradley Makuvire.
“I am happy, I am grateful. That’s a big motivation for the coming events especially the Olympic Games.
“I think these awards must be done yearly because they are an inspiration both to senior and upcoming athletes.
“If they (young athletes) see these awards being done every year, imagine as a young athlete it can inspire you to say let me do this so that I can get that award. So it’s a big motivation to us,” said Mpofu.
The awards returned after being shelved for more than 20 years.
Mpofu participated at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last August and finished on position 15 in 2hours 11minutes 33seconds.
Earlier in the year he competed at the Boston Marathon where he made the top 20, when crossing the finish line on position 19, in 2hours 14minutes 8seconds.
In December he clocked 2hours 7minutes 39seconds at the Valencia Marathon.
Mpofu is one of the two athletes from Zimbabwe that have already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Senior Women Athlete of the Year award went to United States-based Vimbayi Maisvorewa ahead of Ashley Miller and Faith Nyathi.
Takunda Mhete and Kimberly Kachambwa won the Junior Men of the Year and Junior Women of the Year awards respectively.
Kachambwa said she was excited with the recognition and is looking forward to an exciting future.
“I feel excited and I am very thankful because I wouldn’t have done it without God and then without the coaches and the assistance from my school as well.
“I hope that I keep on training so that I can be one of the best athletes in Zimbabwe,” said Kachambwa.
For Kachambwa, some of the major highlights include winning a silver medal in discus at the Confederation of African Athletics Under-18 and Under-20 Championships in Zambia, last year.
Mhete, who won a bronze medal in triple jump at the continental meet in the Under-20 was pleased with the award.
“It means a lot to me and also to my coach.
“I mean we have really worked hard over the past, about nine and for me to be able to win this it’s good to be able to get recognition for the months and hours that not just myself but my coach and I have also put in and the people that support me. So it does mean a lot to me,” said Mhete.
All the winners received trophies and a book written by Robert Mutsauki titled “My Life and Footprint, volume one.”
Baldmin Holdings were the main sponsors of the awards.
NAAZ president Tendayi Tagara said they are hoping to improve the event in the future.
“We want to thank Baldmin Holdings for supporting the event. they made sure that all the trophies are available. They also made sure there is a token of appreciation for all the runners.
“All the athletes received some token of appreciation in terms of cash, it’s not that big but that’s the philosophy we want. We want to incentivise our athletes. We started small but October this year we have agreed that we want to make it big and better,” said Tagara.
Baldmin Holdings managing director and founder Costar Takawira said they would want to see the level of competition improving.
“As a former athlete I took it upon myself to say in order for us to have better competition in the country we have introduce some incentives…So when Mr Tagara approached us we said its fine, we are willing to sponsor the programme, so that at least we recognise our athletes, give them something that would motivate them so that at the end of the day our competition increases,” said Takawira.
The national association also honoured coaches and technical officials.
Claris Gwata walked away with the Technical Official of the Year award and Silas Muringani got the Coach of the Year.
Athlete of the Year: Isaac Mpofu.
Senior Men Athlete of the Year:
- Isaac Mpofu, 2. Tapiwanashe Makarawu, 3. Bradley Makuvire.
Senior Women Athlete of the Year:
Vimbayi Maisvorewa, 2. Ashley Miller, 3. Faith Nyathi
Junior Men Athlete of the Year:
- Takunda Mhete, 2. Samuel Dauti, 3. Shawn Katsidzira.
Junior Women Athlete of the Year:
- Kimberly Kachambwa, 2. Nontokozo Ncube, 3. Samkeliso Ndebele.
Technical Official of Year:
- Claris Gwata, 2. Apinos Chiwara, 3. Ottilia Kurebwaseka.
Coach of the Year:
- Brenda Leipe, 2. Silas Muringani, 3. Cuthbert Nyasango.
- Bulawayo, 2. Harare, 3. Manicaland.