Hlong­wane speaks on Rio Olympics

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

THE swim­ming sen­sa­tion won three medals at the Athens Games in 2004 — gold, sil­ver and a bronze.

She went on to claim four more medals for Zim­babwe at the Bei­jing Games in 2008 —one gold and three sil­ver to take her tally to seven.

But with age catch­ing up with Coven­try it was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for her to re­peat the same feat in the past two edi­tions – 2012 and 2016.

Now it ap­pears Zim­babwe have gone back to the pre Coven­try era when medals at the Games were elu­sive.

Hlong­wane said go­ing for­ward there was need to start plan­ning and pre­par­ing for the next Games early, which is Tokyo, Ja­pan in 2020.

“How are we go­ing to bring this sit­u­a­tion to nor­mal­i­sa­tion? We are start­ing the prepa­ra­tion for Tokyo 2020 this year. I have al­ready asked the Zim­babwe Olympic Com­mit­tee to come to have dis­cus­sions with my­self and my team, so that we start preparations for Tokyo 2020,” said Hlong­wane.

The Min­istry of Sport and Recre­ation re­cently adopted the Sports and Recre­ation Pol­icy to ad­dress var­i­ous is­sues con­cern­ing sport in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ment of sport from grass­roots level.

Hlong­wane said they have met with ZOC and the Sports Com­mis­sion to dis­cuss the im­ple­men­ta­tion of pol­icy with a view of pro­duc­ing the best ath­letes from across the coun­try.

The Sports Min­is­ter said they are also re­vis­ing the for­mat for the Na­tional Youth Games to in­clude all Olympic sport codes and broaden the Games so that they can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in pro­duc­ing world class ath­letes.

Zim­babwe’s Na­tional Youth Games have largely re­sem­bled a so­cial gath­er­ing with very lit­tle in­ter­est from the na­tion.

“The ma­jor em­pha­sis of the pro­gramme that we are rolling out which is the con­se­quence of the com­ing out of the pol­icy is the whole idea of iden­ti­fy­ing the best ta­lent. But be­yond that in the lab­o­ra­tory of the Na­tional Youth Games, which be­gin from the grass­roots, a ma­jor com­po­nent of that is that this lab­o­ra­tory must process that ta­lent. It must de­velop that ta­lent.

“We are do­ing this on an an­nual ba­sis so that we keep track of the best ath­letes that we have from var­i­ous sport codes, es­pe­cially the ac­tive sport codes,” said Hlong­wane.

Some of the lo­cal ath­letes have ben­e­fited from the Olympic Schol­ar­ship pro­gramme whose fund­ing is ad­min­is­tered and man­aged by the Olympic Sol­i­dar­ity, which is the arm of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee.

The pro­gramme of­fers na­tional Olympic com­mit­tees the pos­si­bil­ity to ob­tain fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance for a lim­ited num­ber of elite ath­letes who will be train­ing and at­tempt­ing to qual­ify for the Olympic Games and 10 ath­letes from Zim­babwe ben­e­fited from the schol­ar­ships in 2014 as a build-up to the 2016 Games.

Of the 10 Coven­try, sprinter Gabriel Mvumvure, rower Micheen Thorny­croft, Wir­i­mai Juwawo and Cuth­bert Nyasango were part of the team that rep­re­sented Zim­babwe in Rio.

How­ever, there have been calls for more sup­port from the gov­ern­ment to com­ple­ment such ef­forts since this is lim­ited to a few ath­letes.

Sports Com­mis­sion act­ing di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Joseph Muchechetere con­ceded that cur­rently there is no sup­port­ing sys­tem to en­able ath­letes to com­pete for medals at in­ter­na­tional events.

“The team did its best con­sid­er­ing that com­pe­ti­tion at that level is stiff. But be­cause of a num­ber is­sues we could not match the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard.

“T20 cricket needs some­thing to be shorter than.”

Test cricket has ac­com­pa­nied me through my life, chang­ing with ge­o­log­i­cal slow­ness but chang­ing nonethe­less, its sto­ry­lines in­ex­haustible and sel­f­re­new­ing.

And yet some­thing that takes decades to im­pose its form needs im­pe­tus from out­side forces, the shock of the new, whether it be Kerry Packer, the driv­ing force of TV money, or the non­sense of the Big Three.

By fluke, all of those Test se­ries go­ing on in the last month pro­vided it.

This wasn’t quite box-set cricket but it was a happy co­a­lesc­ing that made for a com­pelling story with a won­der­ful out­come for Pak­istan and the game as a whole.

How in­vig­o­rat­ing and in­spir­ing for Test cricket to have a team at No. 1 that has never been there be­fore, and that has fought al­most over­whelm­ing odds to do so.

But it has hap­pened by chance. The ram­bling, un­fo­cused rank­ing sys­tem can’t claim credit, or to have “solved” the prob­lem of giv­ing nar­ra­tive shape to the un­co­or­di­nated, top-heavy mess that is the Fu­ture Tours Pro­gramme.

It is not a Test cham­pi­onship and it can’t ad­dress the gap be­tween the top teams and the bot­tom, which sug­gests a two-di­vi­sion sys­tem may work bet­ter.

It doesn’t pro­vide more reg­u­lar cricket, or a lad­der up for, whis­per it, more Test play­ing na­tions.

In­stead, it is proof that this end­lessly un­fold­ing story can have its way sta­tions, points at which we stop and re­set and al­low some­one to take in the view from the top.

As Mis­bah put it this week, “For us, the No. 1 rank­ing is not a des­ti­na­tion but part of a jour­ney.”

At the grand old age of 64, and with his 17th novel The Old Devils, Amis fi­nally won some­thing — the big one, in fact — the Booker Prize.

His sur­prise and de­light were gen­uine, and the greater for hav­ing waited so long. Amis drank in the mo­ment and the view.

Pak­istan should en­joy do­ing the same. For once, their story has been prop­erly and spec­tac­u­larly framed. — ESPNCricinfo

“The eco­nomic setup of our­selves, par­tic­u­larly the ath­letes who are train­ing here, all those lo­cal ath­letes they train un­der dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances com­pared to their coun­ter­parts.

“We need to also en­sure as a coun­try we up our gear to cre­ate a sup­port­ing en­vi­ron­ment. We are lag­ging be­hind in terms of train­ing fa­cil­i­ties. If we look at the sport in­fra­struc­ture, it’s nowhere near the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“There are things to do with the sup­port sys­tem for ath­letes which will en­able them to com­pete at that level. We are still strug­gling to come up with such kind of a sys­tem which will en­able an ath­lete to also com­pete at that level,” Muchechetere said.

Hlong­wane, how­ever, said they should have a clear re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion strat­egy in place soon to ad­dress the fund­ing of sport.

“The whole is­sue of the econ­omy of sport is ob­vi­ously a cru­cial mat­ter in terms of fund­ing sport. One of the things that I promised the na­tion upon my ap­point­ment was the in­stal­ment of a na­tional sport and recre­ation fund.

“We have since changed that to a sport, recre­ation and well­ness fund. In the next very few weeks we should be hav­ing a very clear re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion strat­egy for sport, recre­ation and well­ness in our coun­try. That is go­ing to be taken care of.

“And where we are able to raise re­sources in the kind of man­ner that I an­tic­i­pate we need to be able to build new in­fra­struc­ture so that we are also able to host for ex­am­ple the Af­con games so this is cru­cial for us and is some­thing we are re­ally in­vest­ing in,” said Hlong­wane.

Zim­babwe fielded a team of 31 ath­letes in ath­let­ics, archery, and eques­trian, football, row­ing, shoot­ing and swim­ming.

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