Zimbabwean sprinter a sensation in the US

PHILADELPHIA, United States – Zimbabwean United States based athlete Gabriel Mvumvure, LSU's outstanding sprinter, needs no prompting when asked what he loves about the Penn Relays – the crowds, the people he meets, the cheesesteaks, "just every moment," he says.\r\n

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It also means a lot because the Penn Relays is the place where he was discovered as a high school runner from Zimbabwe in 2007. On the same Franklin Field track Saturday, Mvumvure said goodbye to the Penn portion of his college career with the meet’s most dominant performance in the sprints.

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Competing before a crowd of 48,531 that kept the volume pumped up all day, the 5-foot-7 senior anchored LSU to victories in the 4×100- and 4×200-meter relays and also captured the college 100-meter dash, helping the Tigers join Texas A&M as the only multiple winners of the 117th carnival.

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The Aggies women added the 4×200 to their 4×100 and shuttle hurdles relay victories of Friday. The Texas A&M men closed out the weekend by breezing to a win in the 4×400.

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Given that his three successful races all came in a span of 21/2 hours, Mvumvure, who pronounces his name “voo-vure-ay … the M is silent,” accurately called it a victory of “mind over matter.”

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“That’s how we practice,” he said. “We always tell ourselves we’re not tired. Whenever we come here, we’re really trained to do everything. You get fatigued running a lot of events, but at the same time you’ve got to stay positive because it takes four guys to run a relay. So we pump ourselves up and get hyped and we run.”

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The Tigers used excellent handoffs to trounce the field in the 4×100 in a time of 38.77 seconds, then showed the same dexterity with the baton to nip Texas A&M in the 4×200 in 1 minute, 20.62 seconds. Mvumvure motored 100 meters in 10.33 for his third watch of the day, and fifth at the Penn Relays.

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And to think when he first considered the offer from LSU, which recruited him when he was competing here with a team from the foundation World Wide Scholarships, he feared the school was too big for him.

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“I was kind of scared to come over,” he said. “But the only way out of Zimbabwe is to come to the U.S. Everything is great over here. So when I went back home, I was just so determined because I saw a lot of stars here like Shawn Crawford and Tyson Gay. I was really focused, and when I left Penn Relays I started working hard.”

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Horatio Williams and Tristan Walker ran with Mvumvure on both relays with different leadoff men – Keyth Talley on the 4×100 and Riker Hylton on the 4×200.