Zimbabwe: Mixed Bag for Sector

IT’S just a week before the curtain comes down on 2019 and it’s that time of the year to reflect on the successes, failures and challenges some of the sports codes registered.

It hasn’t been an easy year with a tough economic situation that has also had its effects felt in the sport sector although most of the sporting disciplines managed to fulfil their assignments.

Some of the highlights for the year include the 4x100m athletics relay team that made the country proud when they set a new national record when coming first at the Lefika Athletics Club Relays and Hurdles event in Gaborone, Botswana, in March.

The team made up of Tatenda Tsumba, Ngoni Makusha, Dickson Kamungeremu and Itayi Vambe ran 38.95seconds to beat the previous national record of 39.16seconds that was set in 2007 at the African Games.

Although it was a largely disappointing outing for Zimbabwe at this year’s African Games, Team Zimbabwe got some consolation from chess, swimming and triathlon as they picked four medals.

The chess team made up of Rodwell Makoto, Emarald Mushore, Colletah Wakuruwarewa and Linda Shaba got a bronze medal while triathletes Laurelle Brown and Andie Kuipers claimed silver and bronze in the women’s event.

For Kuipers it was a great year as she had earlier in June qualified for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final during the African Championships held in Mauritius.

The 17-year-old proceeded from the African Games to Lausanne, Switzerland, at the end of August where she competed in the junior women’s section and came 58th out of 70 participants.

For her it was her stepping stone towards the 2024 Olympic Games.

Swimmer Robyn Lee also registered her name among the medallists when she claimed bronze in the women’s 200m backstroke at the African Games, contributing to overall four medal the country got at the continental show-piece.

With the focus also on the 2020 Olympic Games, rowing became the first discipline to qualify for the Games to take place from July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan.

Zimbabwe took part at the African Olympic Qualification Regatta in Tunisia in October where they had Peter Purcell-Gilpin competing in the men’s single sculls and he won a silver medal ensuring the country will have a boat at next year’s Games.

Lieben Dickens finished third in the women’s single sculls to clinch a bronze medal, which was also another highlight coming from rowing.

Other disciplines such as hockey found the going tough with the men’s and women’s teams failing to make the cut for the Olympics during the qualifiers staged in South Africa.

Being one of the disciplines that made waves in 1980 and will remain in the history books after the women’s hockey team won Zimbabwe’s first gold medal at the Olympics in Moscow, it appears there is still more that needs to be done for another breakthrough.

Volleyball they capped their year on a positive note with the University of Zimbabwe men’s team emerging winners at the Zone Six Championships in Malawi, booking their ticket to next year’s African Club Championships. They will be joined by Harare City at the African show-piece who came second to qualify for next year’s event as the sport continues to make great strides.

For tennis it was not a good year for the Zimbabwe Davis Cup team after losing the Europe/Africa Group II tie 1-4 against Romania.

However, the likes of the Lock brothers — Benjamin and Courtney had some positive results coming their way winning a number of ITF World Tennis Tours including in Egypt and home when Zimbabwe hosted two events in June at Harare Sports Club.

In a sad development for motocross, Tanya Muzinda pulled out of the Thor Supercross and Motocross Winter Olympics in Florida, United States, in November after she fell sick.

The young rider had been working towards competing in the event that brings together more than 200 aspiring young amateur motocross riders from across the United States and the world.

Although most of the sport disciplines managed to fulfil their assignments, financial challenges continue to haunt local sport and have limited some in their efforts for development and getting proper preparations for international assignments.

Some disciplines have had to trim down their teams where possible while for team events, it has been usually short camps ahead of major events which has seen some teams struggling even at regional events.

Early in the year, the Zimbabwe Handball Federation expressed concern over financial challenges threatening the senior men’s and women’s teams’ participation at the African Games qualifiers in Zambia.

The teams eventually fulfilled the assignment but failed to make the grade and missed out on the Games held in Morocco.

It was not a good year also for the youth and junior teams that missed out on the African Championships after they came fifth and fourth respectively at the IHF Trophy Challenge Zone Six in June. The event was serving as a qualifier to the continental tournaments.

For 2020, the focus for most sport codes will be qualification for the Olympics and hopefully they will make the grade.


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Publish date : 2019-12-24 15:08:12

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