ST Georges College student Chengetayi Mapaya has set his sights on qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The triple jump master has once again wowed local track and field fans by winning gold at the Southern Region Senior Track and Field Championships held last weekend at the National Sports Stadium.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 18-year-old rising star won Zimbabwe’s only gold medal of the regional competition with a massive leap of 16,01m which shattered the national junior men record of 15,65m previously held by United States-based Brian Mada.
The two-day regional championships attracted senior athletes from 10 Southern African countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and the hosts Zimbabwe.
Reflecting on his impressive victory in an interview with Sports World last week, Mapaya, who took up triple jump as his choice of sport only three years ago, said the latest jump exceeded even his own expectations.
“Well, it was an amazing experience and I was really shocked with the result as I didn’t think I would come first.
I didn’t target to come first as I was really scared. I was targeting to do my best only. I feel honoured to come first in a senior championship as I’m only a junior.”
“I still can’t believe I have jumped 16m, it’s been my goal since the start of 2015 and I believe it’s just another step to greater things,” he added.
Mapaya, who will be attending Texas Christian University (TCU) in the US on a full scholarship starting in January 2018, said his next focus was to not only qualify for the next edition of the Olympic Games in Japan but also make it to the final.
“My goal is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and make the finals. I believe it’s an attainable goal if I continue to work hard, stick to the basics and understand the event more.
“Next year I will be going to Texas Christian University, where besides competing in triple jump I also want to do accounting. I’m going there so I can get advanced training and it is a chance I could not ignore and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.
The first born in a family of three Mapaya, who was born on December 19 1998, did his primary education at Southern Primary School and Hartmann House before proceeding to St George’s College for his high school education.
It was at St Georges College where his raw talents were honed with the help of his coach, the multi-talented Brenda Leipe, who has represented Zimbabwe in athletics, hockey, squad and golf.
“I only started doing triple jump because I wanted to be in my school team and it was then that I realised it is just natural to me. I found it quite easy. I was doing Form three at the time. I only realised I was really good in Form Four when I qualified for the 2015 IAAF World Youth Championships,” he said.
The 18-year-old is set to represent the country at the forthcoming African Junior Athletics Championships to be held in Algeria from June 29 to July 2.