Ready, set, go for new track

The long-awaited opening of the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium will herald a new chapter for Pietermaritzburg and position the KwaZulu-Natal capital as the ideal venue for future track and field competitions.
This is the view of many as the city looks to roll out the red carpet to welcome guests, including international sprinters, for the grand opening of the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium later this month.
The multi-million rand track is one of the few to be certified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation and is expected attract interest both from Africa and the international athletics community.
Briefing councillors at a special council sitting, Mandla Zuma, senior manager from the community services business unit said everything was on track for the grand opening soon.
Some of the key features of the track include: main pavilion, precast embankment seats, suites, padded VIP seats, a clubhouse and a football pitch.
Zuma said they were hoping to make a huge impact and raise the city’s profile as a premier sports venue. This, he said, had prompted the invite to the American athletes including former 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin, Inika McPherson and Christian Coleman.
“We have been saying that we want to project ourselves as a sporting capital and the launch of the track, taking place just a day before the Mandela Marathon, will provide focus and media attention to our city,” said Zuma.
The objectives of the launch, Zuma continued, were to stage a world sporting event in the city, host the world’s best athletes, grand opening of the world class 1 stadium and host a final concert.
He added that it was significant to have Gatlin for the opening as the sprinter was the last man to beat the legendary Usain Bolt.
Councillor Thamsanqa Sithole said the opening of the track should be applauded as it marked a significant chapter in the city’s history.
“This is a chance for the city to develop athletes who can earn a living through their abilities. We all know that in order to make money one has to pay money,” said the councillor.
A trial event will be held on August 18 before the official opening to resolve any teething problems.

  AUTHOR
Capital Media Reporter

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