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THE National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe will field two athletes at the International Association of Athletics Federation World Cross Country Championships scheduled for next week in China.

The championships will be held on March 28 in Guiyang and Zimbabwe will be represented by Jacob Mugomeri in the senior men category and Olivia Chitate in the senior women section.

The two athletes posted their best performance at the regional championships last month in Malawi with Chitate winning the women’s event and Mugomeri came second in the men’s section.

NAAZ vice president, Enias Nhoro, said they would have wanted to send a full contingent for the event but they were facing financial challenges.

“We have two athletes that are going, one senior man and one senior woman who were the best at the regional championships in Malawi.

“We only have two athletes because of financial resources, we would have loved to send a full contingent of, at least, six senior men and four athletes for each of the other categories — the senior women, junior men and women.

“That is the standard to score points as a team but they (the two athletes) will score individual points because we do not have a team.

“They are leaving around March 25 and we have attached them with their coaches so that the right things are done in terms of their preparations,” said Nhoro.

This is not the first time the national association has had to cut the number of athletes for national teams representing the country in major events.

However, Nhoro said they have also been engaging parents to assist when they have major events happening to support their children.

“We have involved quite a number of stakeholders including parents of athletes taking part in respective competitions.

“It’s quite an effective way and it’s a route other countries are taking. We are also saying our corporate world should come in and see what they can do,” Nhoro said.

Mugomeri, who will be representing the country for the first time, said he is now making the final touches in his preparations.

“This is my first time at the World Championships and preparations are still in progress but I think now we are at a higher level and we are making the final touches.

“I have only participated in the All-Africa Cross Country championships, that’s the highest competition I have competed in.

“I am expecting to do well so I am training hard and I will do my level best,” said Mugomeri.

Source : The Herald