By Sports Reporter

The who is who of the sports fraternity is today expected to converge in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central province, for the burial of one of Zimbabwe’s greatest athlete, Artwell Mandaza.

Mandaza died on Monday at the age of 73, having been unwell for quite some time. His burial is set for his rural home in Chiweshe.

One of Zimbabwe’s top ultra-distance athletes, Mako Mambo, was already in Chiweshe yesterday to witness the burial of a man idolised by the majority of local athletes.

National Athletics Assiciation of Zimbabwe Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Pretty Maware said Mandaza had been unwell for some time although he occasionally attended some athletics competitions every time he was invited.

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“The man loved his sport. He had been unwell since last year. I used to go and see him and only this year we invited him to an athletics event at Bindura Country Club and he came. He used to attend these events. The sports fraternity will be poorer without him,” she said.

The powerful-striding sprinter from Mhangura, rose to stardom before the country’s independence by becoming the fastest man in the then Rhodesia and the continent at one point.

He held national records in 100m (10,3 seconds), 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 black African to be honoured as the country’s supreme sportsman.