The local sporting family yesterday woke up to the heart-breaking news of the death of athletics legend Artwell Mandaza, who died at his rural home in Chiweshe.

By Sports Reporter

The former sprinter died at the age of 73.

His demise comes barely four years after his wife passed away.

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) announced the passing on of the former athletics great, who once clocked a world record equalling 9,9 seconds in a 100-metre race at the South African Bantu Championships at Welkom in 1970.

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“It is with deep sense of sadness and sorrow that we have received the news of the passing on of one of our greatest ever athlete ever to emerge from our beloved country Artwell Mandaza, who passed on earlier today. Mandaza made an indelible mark during the pre-independence era, where he distinguished himself as a highly talented athlete who went on to become a sprint specialist and champion of that time. Artwell though he was retired, was one of the first inductees of the Zimbabwe National Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, alongside such other athletes like George “The Mastermind” Shaya, Nick Price, Dave Houghton, among others. This was in recognition of his immense contribution to the role he played in athletics and sport in general,” SRC said in a statement.

“The sport sector, in particular athletics, is now poorer without Artwell as it had gained immensely from his experience and exposure over the years. On behalf of the SRC, we would like to convey our deep sympathies to his family, beloved ones and the athletics family at large. May his dear departed soul rest and anchor in eternal peace. We shall forever cherish his contributions to the growth and development of athletics in Zimbabwe.”

The powerful-striding sprinter from then Mangula Mine, now known as Mhangura, rose to stardom before the country’s independence by becoming the fastest man in Rhodesia.

He held national records in 100m (10,3secs), 200m (20,8secs) 400m (46,8secs) and 400m hurdles (52,18secs) from 1969 to 1976.

On the world map, he was ranked among the world’s top 100 on six occasions.

For his dazzling efforts, Mandaza was chosen as the nation’s Sportsman of the Year for 1970 and was also presented with the John Hopley Memorial Trophy to make him the first African to be honoured as the country’s supreme sportsman.

Sadly, he never competed at the Olympic Games.