Zimbabwean track legend Ken Harnden honoured in the US, named National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year

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US-based Zimbabwean track and field coach Ken Harnden capped off a very successful season at Auburn University after being named the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Outdoor Track & Field National Assistant Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The 51-year-old two-time Zimbabwean Olympian is in his second year at Auburn University in Alabama, where he is responsible for coaching the Tigers’ sprints and hurdles.

Harnden contributed significantly to Auburn’s second-place finish at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Championships, equaling the team’s best finish in program history.

Of the 40 points the men earned at NCAAs, 36 of those came from his unit, which was the most of any program.

The men’s 4x100m relay team won their first national title, crossing the line in 38.03.

The quartet of freshman Kanyinsola Ajayi, sophomore Azeem Fahmi and juniors Dario Matau and Makanakaishe Charamba who also hails from Zimbabwe ran the third fastest time in collegiate history.

Six sprinters earned First Team All-America honors for their performances at the outdoor championships, including freshman Ja’Kobe Tharp (110m hurdles) and Ajayi (100m, 4x100m relay), Fahmi (4x100m relay), juniors Favour Ashe (100m), Charamba (200m, 4x100m relay), and Matau (4x100m relay).

Throughout the 2024 outdoor season, six school records were broken on the sprint’s side including Ashe in the 100m dash (9.94), Charamba in the 200m (19.95), Tharp broke the freshman and school record in the 110m hurdles (13.18), the 4x100m relay (38.03) and Ajayi broke the freshman 100m dash record (10.03)

Tharp also broke a 46-year-old American U20 record with his gold-worthy performance in the 110m hurdles at the SEC Outdoor Championships (13.18). Last week he claimed the USATF U20 Championships title with a personal best time of 13.12.

Last week Harnden was named to the 2024 USTFCCCA South Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Harnden first left Zimbabwe to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapell Hill. Specialising in the 400m hurdles, he would record a personal best of 48.05 seconds from Paris in 1998.

He also holds the Zimbabwean record in 4 x 400m relay – 3:00.79 minutes – alongside Tawanda Chiwira, Phillip Mukomana and Savieri Ngidhi – from the 1997 World Championships in Athens.

Harnden went to the Olympics twice, in 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney.

Since his hanging up his spikes Harnden has transformed himself into one of the top track and field coaches in the US.

 

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