Zimbabwe’s triple jump sensation Chengetayi Mapaya is relishing the opportunity of taking on some of the world’s best athletes in the sport when he competes at the World Athletics Championships which run from July 15 to 24 in Eugene, Oregon, United States.
The 23-year-old had a forgettable debut at the World Athletics Championships three years ago in Doha, Qatar after finishing 24th in the field of 33 hopefuls to miss out on a place in the final.
He was scheduled to participate at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games last year before tearing his hamstring a month before the global sporting showcase dashed his Olympic dream.
After working his way back up from the heart-breaking injury to becoming one of the most inform triple jumpers in the world right now, Mapaya is now set to compete in his second global competition for Zimbabwe after a memorable season on the US collegiate track and field circuit.
And unlike, three years ago when he was star-struck in his maiden international meet, this time around he goes with high expectations.
“I’m pretty much confident going into this year’s World Championships because when I made my debut at the event in 2019, I was young and when I got to Doha I was more like a fan. I was looking at all the people I used to watch when I was a kid, so I lost track of myself and didn’t really focus to the best of my abilities,” Mapaya said in an exclusive interview with ZimSportLive.
“Now I’m grown and more mature and I know what I want. I’m going into the competition not thinking of the other athletes as my idols or anything but more of my competition. I’m pretty confident and ready for this one. I’m well prepared mentally and physically I’m in a better position than I was any other year,” he said.
The former Texas Christian University ace returns to the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, the same place where he capped off his collegiate career in style after capturing NCAA Outdoor Championships’ triple Jump title last month.
Mapaya, who also captured the triple jump crown in 2019 in Austin, Texas, produced the defining jump on his third attempt when he leapt 17.26m to break his own TCU school record and recording a lifetime best.
His championship-winning jump put him at number four in the world this season. His previous personal-best jump of 17.13m is the mark that won him the title in 2019.
“I managed to win the NCAA triple jump outdoor title in my last competition for TCU at Hayward Field in Oregon and I feel like I’m going back home. I know the facility very well,” he said.
Mapaya is one of the three athletes who will represent the country at the prestigious track and field competition.
He will be joined by his former TCU teammate, sprinter Tinotenda Matiyenga, who will compete in the 200m and marathon runner Isaac Mpofu.
Retired Zimbabwean track and field star Ngonidzashe Makusha, who is now coaching at the University of California, Davis in the US, is the only Zimbabwean to medal at the World Athletics Championships after clinching a bronze medal in the long jump11 years ago in Daegu, South Korea.