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        Accounting, Student

        Going for gold: Harbert student to compete at summer Olympics

        June 20, 2024 By Laura Schmitt

        All News


        Runner crossing finish line

        Accounting junior and sprinter Maka Charamba (left), who will compete in the 2024 Olympic games in August, crosses the finish line in the 4x100 relay race in Eugene, Oregon, winning the NCAA national championship with his teammates on June 7, 2024. Photo by David Gray/Auburn Athletics

        Accounting junior and track and field athlete Makanakishe Charamba is on a roll, bringing home an NCAA national relay championship trophy for the Auburn Tigers team in early June and placing third in the 200m sprint at the SEC conference championships in May.

        But rather than resting on these laurels, the young man from Zimbabwe is back on the Auburn campus for a couple of weeks taking two summer school classes and training for the competition of a lifetime—the 2024 Paris Olympics in August, where he’ll run the 200-meter sprint as a member of the Zimbabwe team.

        “[Going to the Olympics] means the whole world to me,” said Charamba, who expressed gratitude for the guidance of his family, coaches and mentors. “I’ve been praying for this since I don’t even know when.”

        Recent success

        Auburn runners lifting trophy

        Maka Charamba (left) celebrates winning the NCAA national championship with his 4x100 meter relay teammates. Photo by David Gray/Auburn Athletics

        Charamba ran the fourth leg of the NCAA championship 4x100-meter relay with teammates Azeem Fahmi, Kanyinsola Ajayi and Dario Matau, finishing in 38:03, which was an Auburn school record and third fastest time in collegiate history.

        He’s also particularly proud of his third-place finish in the 200-meter race at the SEC championship in Gainesville, Florida. His 20-second performance was the second fastest time in Auburn history.

        “I wasn’t really a contender to get a medal going into the SEC championships but being able to put my name out there was unbelievable and crazy,” he said. “My coach just said you’re the big man here so go execute. I went out and executed my own race and I got a medal.”

        His road to track and field success

        According to Charamba, his parents recognized his exceptional speed when he was a toddler. I’d disobey my mother and climb on the kitchen counter to steal sugar from the cupboard, he said. She, in turn, asked her husband to discipline their son.

        “My dad couldn’t catch me,” said Charamba. “Instead of my mom getting mad, she’d laugh.”

        An all-around great athlete, Charamba played field hockey in middle school and ran track and played rugby in high school in his hometown of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

        In his sophomore year, he made the Zimbabwean Youth Olympic Games track and field team but didn’t compete in Buenos Ares because his school exams were the same week.

        “My parents told me to be patient for the future,” he said. “Now I’m going to Paris.”

        The Auburn experience

        Charamba transferred to Auburn in 2023 from Carson-Newman University, a D2 school in Tennessee, where he won a gold medal and national title in the 200-meter dash, among other awards.

        “When I came on my visit to Auburn, the bond I created with my coach is something I cannot explain,” he said, referring to Auburn Track and Field Head Coach Leroy Burrell, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x100-meter relay.

        He said his experience in the Harbert College of Business has been positive, and after he earns his accounting degree, he aims to stay in the college to earn an MS in Information Systems. His ultimate goal is to become an auditor—the same profession that his mother practices.

        He also expressed his appreciation for Colby Lakas, director of recruiting & professional development in the School of Accountancy, who challenged him to be his best self personally and academically.

        “I used to be rude, and Mrs. Lakas said, ‘Maka, you need to stop it now,’” he said. “That was a good experience. I feel like she really understood me as a person.”

        Lakas recalls having Charamba in the professional development class she taught last fall.

        “I knew he was a talented athlete and wanted to help him build the soft skills he’ll use as an auditor,” she said. “He was very receptive to my guidance, like his openness to being coached in his sport. He will continue to see success on and off the track since he values mentorship.”

        The Olympics

        The first round of 200-meter heats will take place in Stade de France, a 77,000-seat venue, on August 5. The top eight runners will compete for medals in the finals, which are scheduled for August 8.

        Learn more about how to view the Olympic 200-meter races and other track and field events, which will be live-streamed on the NBC Sports app and broadcast on the NBC network in the United States.