Athlete establishes academy

Twenty four years after he disappeared into sporting oblivion, celebrated former Zimbabwe long distance runner Elijah Nkala has resurfaced in Gwanda, where he has set-up an athletics academy.

The Mawabeni Athletics Academy caters for both junior and senior athletes, according to Nkala, who is also a ward councillor for the area.

“As a way of giving back to the community that nurtured my successful athletics career, I decided to empower talented rural youngsters, who are usually neglected by talent scouts and trainers,” said Nkala recently.

“I have seen a lot of talent go to waste in the rural areas because no one seems to care about the talent at all. I have therefore decided to act because we cannot afford to continue seeing athletics go down the drain. I have students ranging from primary school to those at senior secondary level.” Nkala, who is funding the academy, appealed for more corporate support that would hopefully see him turn the school of sport into a world-acclaimed athletics centre.

“Having toured the world, I left athletics in 1991 because the sport was under-funded. That is still the case today, so I am in the process of seeking sponsors for this academy, which could turn Zimbabwe’s fortunes around. We need training regalia for the young athletes, include track suits, running shoes/spikes, cones and towels.

“We also need financial support for our runners to be able to attend competitions. I am impressed with results we are achieving as a club. My own daughter, Thando, a member of the academy, recently did us proud when she won a 400m race in Bulawayo. Fellow athletes like Libon Moyo and Winnie Ndumba also did well. I want to produce top quality athletes that the country will be proud of.”

Nkala, 51, holds a National Level One and a LAAF Level Two, both of which are international coaching certificates. The MDC-T Ward Five councillor is a former Zone six champion, having won a number of gold medals between 1985 and 1990. He also won a number of medals in the Southern Region Championships and represented Zimbabwe at the All-Africa Games in places like Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria.

His biggest competitions were when he represented the country in Birmingham, United Kingdom and at the Olympics Games in Seoul, South Korea.

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