Go Team Zimbabwe!
PRESIDENT Mugabe has urged Team Zimbabwe, which will participate at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to 21 to bring home medals to increase on the country’s tally which stands at eight medals since Independence.
Speaking at a send-off ceremony for the Team Zimbabwe athletes and officials at the State House yesterday, President Mugabe said the whole nation was behind the athletes and was confident they will do well and win some medals.
Since attaining Independence, the country has only won eight medals. Seven of those have come from Golden Girl and swimming icon Coventry, who picked a gold, silver and a bronze in 2004 in Athens.
She won more medals in Beijing in 2008 collecting a gold and three silver medals.
The hockey ladies team was the first team to collect a gold medal at the Moscow Games in 1980.
Coventry is among the 31 athletes who will represent the country in seven disciplines — Athletics, Archery, Equestrian, Football, Rowing, Shooting and Aquatics.
Yesterday, speaking at a ceremony which was also attended by the two vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Christopher Mushohwe as well as Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo, President Mugabe said the nation can surpass that achievement.
“Team Zimbabwe stand on the verge of writing a new, very new page in the annals of our 36-year history as a nation. We join them as our ambassadors in sport, to be beacons and role models to the whole nation, for the whole nation in general, and to our youth in particular.
“As they mingle with more than 10 000 athletes from all over the world, it should not be lost upon them that the joyful aspirations of the 14 million people left behind, 14 million Zimbabweans hinge on their dignified presence and sterling performances at this festival of sport, the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. As we send off Team Zimbabwe to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, we are confident that you will perform to the best of your ability, and add more medals to our current Olympic haul of eight medals which are three gold, four silver and one bronze,” said President Mugabe.
At the ceremony, which was also attended by the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee president Admire Masenda, vice-president Busi Chindove, among other Team Zimbabwe officials, the only team sport at the Games, the Mighty Warriors and the athletics trio of Wirimai Juwawo, Rutendo Nyahora and Cuthbert Nyasango had the opportunity to be introduced to the President one by one.
The Mighty Warriors are expected to leave this morning for Rio while other athletes based outside the country, including Coventry, will connect from their respective bases.
The President, who received the team at State House, also called for Fair Play so that the athletes don’t tarnish the country’s image.
“We expect them to display the highest standards of discipline, sportsmanship, and to market Brand Zimbabwe in a positive and sustainable manner.
“This implies that our athletes have to be imbued with and guided by the Olympic values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence.
“Fair Play has to be the credo that underpins our participation at the Olympics, lest we inadvertently tarnish the image of our nation. I trust that the athletes, coaches and managers will remain poignantly aware of the mantra.
“And as we expect the very good results we all over say ‘Go!Go!Go! Team Zimbabwe!’,” said President Mugabe.
The President said the nation would be firmly behind the team.
“The whole nation is behind you. Our hearts would be having palpitations all the time when you run or you are performing. To us you are our heroes and heroines,” he said.
He said the athletes should not lose heart even if they fail to pick medals as there was always next time.
“Every one of you is a representative and an ambassador of Zimbabwe. You will, yes, have tough opposition very tough opposition.
“But we hope you will also be tougher than they are but should you lose, to us you would not have lost.
“Just being there is a great achievement for you and for us.
“And, of course, we wish you can have as many friends as you can. Avoid making enemies at all.
“Be as friendly as you can. If you lose don’t lose heart there is always tomorrow. Avoid injuries and come back as strong and healthy as we have sent you here,” he said.
President Mugabe was then presented with a gift of Team Zimbabwe replica kits they would be donning at the Games.
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