Cooke plans local training camp

HARARE - Zimbabwe's lone decathlete Keegan Cooke is looking forward to bringing home one of United States’ finest athletics track coach, Josh Priester for a development camp next January.

The multi-athletics development camp is set to be hosted in conjunction with the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (Naaz) and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (Zoc).

The event will be independent of Cooke’s area of speciality, decathlon as the coaching clinic is intended to help talented local athletes in their chosen disciplines.

Decathlon is a 10-event track and field athletic contest competed over two days. It comprises of the 100m sprint, 400m and the 1500m run, hurdles, javelin, discus throws, shot put, pole vault, high jump and long lump.

Cooke, who is now based at the Santa Barbara Track Club (SBTC) in the United States and trains under Priester, said he is keen to see the American and his team impart their expertise to local athletes and coaches.

“In a short time coach Josh along with the other members of the SBTC and I have built a good relationship and after many discussions he agreed to visit Zimbabwe in January next year,” Cooke told the Daily News yesterday.

“It was easy for him to make that decision because he had long been following events about the country given that we had Ngoni Makusha and Gabriel Mumvure already in the States and raising the country’s flag high.”

The training camp would open to the top athletes at the respective schools willing to take athletics to a higher level.

These will be taken from primary and secondary schools from both government and private institutions.

The American coaches will also go through their mentorship clinics in the evenings after the students’ day training.

“We know there has been a lot of people coming here to tap on the local talent we have in the country but this conference with be completely different,” added Cooke.

“We are not trying to extract people but we want to bring the experts here to impart and equip the local people with the requisite knowledge free of charge, it’s not a money making scam but an opportunity to develop the athletes and coaches for the benefit of the country.”

Priester has agreed to bring an eight-team entourage including top athletes to run a full track and field coaching clinic along with a coaching conference provided that the host takes care of the flights.

Cooke, who is sponsored by Ram Petroleum, is confident that the local sponsors would embrace the opportunity and make the camp a success.

“If we can secure the finances for a trip like this then we know it can happen and it will be a success,” he said.

The 26-year-old decathlete, who is eyeing to participate at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has settled well at SBTC under the guidance of Priester.

Recently, he broke a couple of personal best records including a 7.05m new long jump record and 1.96m in the high jump.

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