Nine-year-old Obey Makamu of Emganwini suburb in Bulawayo stole the show at the PPC Matopos 33-Miler by running the 53.1km course in an impressive time of four hours 35 minutes.
The youngster, a Grade 4 pupil at Samathonga Primary School in Hlekwini on the outskirts of Bulawayo along Plumtree road, ran alongside his father Brian, who is a former professional athlete, who used to represent Harlem Athletics Club in Mutare.
Young Makamu won the spectators’ admiration with his pace, consistency and discipline, as he maintained his strides along Matopos Road running side by side with his father.
The elder Makamu, who finished the race five minutes after his son, said his dream is to see his son becoming the youngest athlete to compete at the prestigious Comrades Marathon that takes place in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa.
“My dream is to see Obey running at the Comrades Marathon at the age of 12. I want him to make history and become the youngest athlete to run at the comrades. What I’m doing now is to prepare him for the Comrades Marathon and we are working on endurance. He did well today and beat me to the finish line. The cellphone I was holding was heavy and that contributed to me losing to Obey,” said Brian.
Upon crossing the finish line, Obey became an instant hero, with participants that had just finished the 5km Fun Run taking turns to have Kodak moments with the youngster, who didn’t show signs of being tired.
Sports scientist Bhekuzulu Khumalo is on record saying while it’s good to see such a young talent, it needs to be nurtured in a proper way.
Khumalo believes Obey must practise by running shorter distances and be gradually introduced to longer distances as he grows. He warns that overloading the youngster could scientifically affect his development.”
However, Brian sees no wrong in having his son competing in long distances at a tender age.
He introduced his son to athletics when the boy was two years old.
He believes that his boy would become a renowned long distance runner because of the training he gets.
“I know people might say I am abusing the child, but I am not because every time I go out for my exercises, Obey follows me. He started doing so when he was two years old and after seeing that white people were introducing their children to sport at a tender age, I decided to follow suit. I know he can earn a living through athletics and I will be happy to see him representing the country when he grows up,” said Brian.
Zimbabwe’s most celebrated sports persons, swimming icon Kirsty Coventry and the Black brothers Byron and Wayne who were tennis players, were introduced to their respective sporting disciplines at a tender age.