Go Team Zim­babwe!

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Grace Chin­goma

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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