Five ath­letes for Par­a­lympics Games

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa Sports Reporter

ZIM­BABWE are this year ex­pected to field five ath­letes at the up­com­ing Par­a­lympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in Septem­ber.

The Par­a­lympic Games are sched­uled for Septem­ber 7 to 18.

Zim­babwe will be rep­re­sented in ath­let­ics by Laina Sit­hole, who got a bi­par­tite invitation, and in pararow­ing.

Late last year there were in­di­ca­tions that Sit­hole and Shep­herd Gumede had qual­i­fied for Rio soon af­ter the African Games in Congo Braz­zav­ille where they took part in ath­let­ics.

But it later emerged that they had at­tained B qual­i­fi­ca­tion times, which only en­abled them to be con­sid­ered for bi­par­tite invitation.

Only Sit­hole got the bi­par­tite invitation and Team Zim­babwe chef de mis­sion, Wit­ness Mag­u­l­ula, con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment yes­ter­day.

“Zim­babwe has one ath­lete in ath­let­ics, Laina Sit­hole, who has qual­i­fied through a bi­par­tite invitation. She will com­pete in 100m event class T13.

“We also have a para-rowing team that’s go­ing to com­pete for the first time and the team com­prises of four ath­letes with dis­abil­i­ties and one coxswain who has no dis­abil­ity as per re­quire­ment.

“This is an ex­cit­ing mo­ment for Zim­babwe as rowing is one of the grow­ing sport in this coun­try.

“Ini­tially, it had emerged as though the two (Sit­hole and Gumede) had at­tained qual­i­fy­ing times for Rio 2016. But upon fur­ther in­quiries, it emerged that the two had at­tained B stan­dard of qual­i­fi­ca­tion of which it was not au­to­matic.

“This B qual­i­fi­ca­tion stan­dard en­abled the ath­letes to be con­sid­ered for bi­par­tite invitation slots ap­pli­ca­tion.

“We ap­plied for this and only Laina Sit­hole was con­sid­ered and Shep­herd Gumede was not. It’s up to the dis­cre­tion of IPC Ath­let­ics (In­ter­na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee) to con­sider who should be al­lo­cated the slot,” said Mag­u­l­ula.

The para-rowing team is made up of Previous Wiri, Takudzwa Gwariro, Mar­garet Ban­ga­jena, Michelle Grant and Jes­sica Davis (coxswain).

Mag­u­l­ula said they are hop­ing to in­ten­sify their prepa­ra­tions next week for all the in­volved ath­letes.

“Prepa­ra­tions for the Games are un­der­way since we are aware of the level of com­pe­ti­tion there. It’s an elite type of com­pe­ti­tion where one has to be at his or her best form in or­der to at­tain de­sired per­for­mance.

“We are putting an in­ten­sive pro­gramme that starts in earnest next week for both ath­let­ics and rowing. Like any other bat­tal­ion that goes into bat­tle, the ul­ti­mate goal is to win but we can­not be all win­ners. We are go­ing there to put our max­i­mum ef­fort un­der the ban­ner of our national flag.

“Zim­babwe has done it be­fore at the Par­a­lympic Games, so his­tory may favour us and see that beau­ti­ful flag of ours be­ing hoisted higher up in the sky once again,” said Mag­u­l­ula.

The Zim­babwe National Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee is ex­pected to have sub­mit­ted the fi­nal team to the IPC by Au­gust 15.

Zim­babwe last won a medal at the Par­a­lympic Games in 2004 in Athens, Greece, when El­liot Mu­jaji scooped gold in the 100m event. He had won a gold medal in the same event at the 2000 Games in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia.

In 2012 at the Lon­don Olympic Games, Zim­babwe had two ath­letes Mu­jaji and Nyasha Mharakurwa for wheel­chair ten­nis.

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