Zimbabwe’s top female long distance athlete Sharon Tavengwa’s fairytale run began in an unorthodox fashion in Chirumhanzu when she pretended to be a boy for her talent to be recognised.
Tavengwa’s chance to be noticed came when one of the boys making up the four by 400 metres U-12 relay team scheduled to compete in the district championships was disqualified for age-cheating.
And because everyone knew Tavengwa as a talented girl, she pulled a fast one by posing as a boy and was drafted into the boys’ relay team.
“I had to pretend to be a boy at that moment but that wasn’t easy at all,” she said.
“That was four by 400m. I started the race and I am telling you I was just moving, I really don’t know how I did it, but I made it. That’s when everyone took me seriously and they began to see my talent.”
Tavengwa’s adventure of posing as a boy athlete was the beginning of a successful long distance running career.
Her unique talent earned her an International Olympic Committee scholarship in 2003 which allowed her to travel to Kenya.
In Kenya, she received mentorship from former Dutch Marathon Champion Lucien Alcon Krotwaar to kick start her illustrious marathon career.