BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
A DECADE after his last collegiate race with the Florida State University (FSU), Ngonidzashe Makusha’s name remains etched in the famed institution’s sports record books.
The 34-year-old Olympian and Zimbabwe track and field legend was last weekend recognised for his remarkable collegiate career by being inducted into the FSU’S Athletics Hall of Fame.
Makusha, who is now coaching at the University of California Davis, was named along with other inductees, who will make up the 2021 class.
The induction ceremony, which is traditionally held the night before FSU’s first home football game, is being postponed. The Athletics Hall of Fame committee will announce the induction date once it is scheduled.
Makusha enjoyed a remarkable career at FSU winning several accolades in the long jump and 100m between 2008 and 2011 under the tutelage of compatriot coach Ken Harden, following up on the success of another Zimbabwean and FSU sprint legend Brian Dzingai.
In a befitting tribute, FSU this week described the former Churchill High School pupil as one of the greatest track and fields athletes of all time.
“Ngoni Makusha’s path to Florida State’s Hall of Fame began as a freshman when he won the NCAA Outdoor long jump title, which he followed with a fourth-place finish for his native Zimbabwe at the 2008 Olympic Games. And he never slowed down, enroute to becoming one of the greatest collegiate track and field athletes of all time,” FSU said.
“Over his historic career as a Seminole from 2008-2011, Makusha won six NCAA titles between the long jump (four), 100-metre dash and the 4×100 relay team, added six ACC titles, and played a key role on Seminoles’ 2008 NCAA National Championship team.
“The eight-time All-American set an NCAA and ACC record in the 100 in 2011, which remains the best in FSU and ACC history. His five NCAA individual titles rank as the second-most ever for an FSU male track athlete and his eight All-America honors rank as the sixth most in Seminole male track history.” FSU said.
Makusha won countless individual titles during his time at FSU but the biggest of them all was The Bowerman Award in 2011 — an annual track and field award that is the highest accolade given to the year’s best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field.
He was also named NCAA Male Track Athlete of the Year as a senior when his performance at the NCAA Outdoor Championship was heralded as one of the greatest ever.
In what is still regarded as one of the finest individual performances in US collegiate athletics history Makusha won the 100-metre title in a collegiate record 9.89 and added a long jump crown with a Drake Stadium record of 8.40 metres.
In doing so, he became just the fourth man in history to complete that double, joining legends Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and DeHart Hubbard.
Makusha’s record in the 100m in 2011 was the NCAA’s standard for six years and is the league’s current benchmark.
After his career was hampered by injuries, Makusha ventured into coaching and is now well regarded as one of the top young coaches in the US.
Makusha shares the same name and surname with the 27 year-old sprinter Ngonidzashe Makusha, who recently represented Zimbabwe at the Tokyo Olympic Games.