IT’S been barely two months since Zimbabwean triple jump sensation, Chengetayi Mapaya relocated to the United States on a track and field scholarship, but the former St George’s College pupil is already setting the American collegiate athletics scene alight.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 19-year-old star, who is now part of the Texas Christian University (TCU), on Saturday clinched a bronze medal at the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Indoor Track and Field Championship in College Station, Texas.
Mapaya, who is the African junior champion in the discipline, recorded a new personal best jump of 16,38m on his way to a medal in only his third meet as a Horned Frog to earn first-team All-American honors in the process.
The Zimbabwean, who is hoping to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, earned the praises of the TCU head coach, Darryl Anderson, who said he was impressed by how Mapaya has settled in the US.
“Everyone, who came on this trip earned All-American honours and that’s a major accomplishment for our programme. It’s funny about (Chengetayi) Mapaya in that he wasn’t even in the country two months ago and for him to come in and finish third says a lot about his ability, upside, and his ceiling moving forward,” Anderson said.
Mapaya’s performances helped TCU finish 17th out of 64 participants with 12 points.
The University of Florida won the meet with 40 points.
Mapaya burst on to the local athletics scene after shattering several records on his way to a memorable gold medal at the African Junior Athletics Championships in Algeria last year.
He jumped a personal best mark of 16,30 meters, breaking the African Junior Athletics Championships record of 16,16 metres set by Ali Bouguesba of Algeria in 2009.
Mapaya also broke his own national record of 16,01 meters he set on his way to another gold medal at the Southern Region Senior Track and Field Championships held a month earlier at the National Sports Stadium.
His mark in the Algerian city of Tlemcen was, however, short of the long standing African junior triple jump record of 16,96m set by South Africa’s Olympic silver medallist, Godfrey Khotso Mokoena in Bloemfontein, South Africa in April 2004.
He is the Annual National Sports Awards Junior Sportsman of the Year silver medalist.