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NATIONAL Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president, Tendai Tagara has expressed confidence in the two athletes who will represent the nation at the World Cross Country Championships set for this weekend in Guiyang, China.

Zimbabwe will be represented by Jacob Mugomeri and Olivia Chitate. The two left the country yesterday ahead of the event slated for Saturday with athletes from across the globe taking part.

Tagara said they are targeting a top 20 finish for the athletes so that they qualify for the World Athletics Championships 10 000m event in August to be held in the same country.

“We are looking at the two athletes finishing in the top 20. The aantage is they automatically qualify for the World Athletics Championships 10 000m event. So that is our target because it’s been long since we had athletes competing in the 10 000m event at the World Championships. I think it was around 1998 or 1999.

“Mugomeri has been running very well. It’s his first time, but his performance has been good and it is just two years since he graduated from juniors and he is already dominating the seniors.

“Olivia has been there before, this is her second year and she now has the experience. She knows what to expect and the strategy for cross country,” said Tagara.

Tagara said so far they have six athletes that have qualified for the marathon at the World Championships in August.

“The World Championships will be in Beijing and so far we have six marathon athletes who have qualified, but we are only sending three, that’s the requirement. So we are going to choose the three and so far Cuthbert Nyasango is leading.

“As for the sprint we still have a lot of time, most runners haven’t started outdoor events because it was winter in Europe,” Tagara said.

Tagara also said they would have wanted to send more athletes for the World Cross Country Championships, but noted that most of the athletes did not do well at the regional events.

Chitate, who participated in the Commissioner-General of Police 21km road race over the weekend said preparations have been going on well and is ready to compete.

“Preparations have been okay. I was training with some of the best athletes such as Cuthbert Nyasango. And the race (the half marathon) was part of my preparations,” said Chitate.

Chitate won the regional championships held in Malawi in February while Mugomeri came second in the men’s section.

Source : The Herald