World at Vambe's feet

HARARE - Although sprinter, Itai Vambe is flattered by comparisons with United States-based track star Ngonidzashe Makusha, the 21-year-old is determined to write his own piece of history.

The former Chindunduma High School student has been sprinting past runners from a tender age, and that is no surprise with the legacy he was born into.

Vambe’s family, were all standout track athletes during their time, and he gravitated toward running from an early age.

The Mbare-born athlete grew up hearing tales of his parents Claver and Bertha Nazareth’s successes as standout track and field performers during their hey day.

“He is a pure and natural athlete. He was just born into it,” says his father, Claver.

“I have always let my children pursue what they are good at, and Itai fell in love with running.”

From an early age, Itai excelled at every sport that he tried from football, handball, basketball and rugby, but he could not escape his family’s natural gift.

“My background as a 400m runner is my dad always told me if you can run the 400m then you will be able to succeed in any other race,” Itai says.

“I then realised that my strength is in the 100m and 200m although at school I was also participating in the 4x100m relay. 

“I want to keep progressing, keep challenging myself and build on to what I have started.

The young Itai has had an impressive run on the track earning more than 30 medals and several trophies in his career thus far.

He has been to Russia, China and several African countries taking part in the tertiary games and excelled with flying colours.

The 21-year-old sprinter won gold in the 4x100m relay during the Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi (Zizama) Games in 2012 and 2013.

He also won gold medals in the 100m and 200m several times at the Cucssa Games and other tertiary competitions.

Having competed for several years without striking a scholarship for his talent, Itai was last year spotted by Successful Strides Sports Academy (SSSA) during the Tertiary competitions and has since set his sights on qualifying for this year’s Africa Games to be held in Congo-Brazzaville in September.

Itai is confident he can use the African Games as a stepping stone en-route to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“It was difficult during my days at high school given the less resources at my disposal. But I always did my best under the circumstances. I am working hard now to try and qualify for the African Games,” he says.

“I want to write my own piece of history. I believe in my capabilities and I am ready to do all I can to be in Congo-Brazzaville for the African Games. From there then I will start think of the Olympics.

“Normally, I don’t like to have any expectations, because I feel like they set limitations but I intend to go far.”

Itai spent six years at Chindunduma in Mt Darwin where he did his secondary education before he enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe for a Sociology degree.

At UZ — where he recently graduated with a second class degree — Vambe spent most of his time setting numerous school records.

He was the institution’s champion in 100m dash for five straight years between 2010 and 2014 among other achievements.

“We recruited him because we saw his natural talent,” said SSSA coach David Tinago.

“He is a focused guy, and he will be a success. He could be the next big thing after the likes of Makusha and others I tell you. He is destined for greatness, only time will tell.”   

He will begin his journey to stardom when he competes at the Sportsview Invitational Championships set for Gaborone in Botswana next week.

He will also participate at the Senior Southern Region Championships in Mauritius in May which affords him an opportunity to qualify for the African Games.

On the social side, the quiet and reserved Itai spends most of his free time relaxing at home watching movies, mostly comedies, to help him get away from the grind of track.

“He is a fun guy to be around, easy to get along with and very laid-back,” says his mother, Bertha Nazareth.

“He is an intense competitor, but he does not let it consume him.”

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