Con­fi­dent Team Zim leaves for Brazil

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - El­lina Mh­langa

TEAM Zim­babwe rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try at the 2016 Par­a­lympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, left the coun­try yes­ter­day with the chef de mis­sion Wit­ness Mag­u­l­ula ex­press­ing con­fi­dence in the ath­letes.

The Games are run­ning from Septem­ber 7 to 18 and Zim­babwe are send­ing a del­e­ga­tion of 14 peo­ple in­clud­ing six ath­letes to com­pete in ath­let­ics and para-row­ing.

Most of the team mem­bers left early yes­ter­day led by Mag­u­l­ula while the Zim­babwe Na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent, Michael Bu­la­gango, and sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Lewis Garaba, are ex­pected to join the team later.

Speak­ing ahead of their de­par­ture on Tues­day night, Mag­u­l­ula said de­spite the fact that they will be field­ing an in­ex­pe­ri­enced team, they re­main op­ti­mistic that they will do well.

“When we look at the his­tory of Zim­babwe we have got El­liot Mu­jaji who com­peted for the first time at the Games. He won medals, so it doesn’t mat­ter you are com­pet­ing for the first time or sec­ond time. Any time you com­pete at the Games you can also win a medal.

“We have got equal chances of hav­ing medals. We are a com­pet­ing na­tion, we equal ev­ery­one who is there.

“We have pre­pared ad­e­quately for the Games so we ex­pect to do well and with lady luck on our side, we might bring a medal to Zim­babwe,” said Mag­u­l­ula.

Mag­u­l­ula ac­knowl­edged the Gov­ern­ment for fund­ing the team’s trip as the Na­tional Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee faced fi­nan­cial con­straints.

“Our bud­get was around $80 000 and due to the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion that is cur­rently pre­vail­ing in our coun­try we man­aged to get $55 000 from the Gov­ern­ment. Our mis­sion is not to have more money but to go and com­pete and rep­re­sent Zim­babwe.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that many peo­ple we ap­proached ex­pressed that their bud­gets are tight and they have even cut their pro­grammes. So they couldn’t sup­port us much but we are grate­ful to the Gov­ern­ment for the work they have done so far so that we are able to travel to Rio as per sched­ule,” said Mag­u­l­ula.

The para-row­ing team made up of Mar­garet Ban­ga­jena, Pre­vi­ous Wiri, Takudzwa Gwariro, Michelle Gar­nett and Jes­sica Davis, who is the coxswain, will com­pete in the para mixed coxed four and Laina Sit­hole will bat­tle it out in the T12 100m race in ath­let­ics.

Sit­hole has in the past rep­re­sented Zim­babwe in var­i­ous re­gional and con­ti­nen­tal events. In 2014 she won a gold medal at the Re­gion Five Games held in Bu­l­awayo. She had won a gold medal in the same com­pe­ti­tion in 2012, then known as the Zone Six Games, and last year she took bronze at the African Games.

Sit­hole said her par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Par­a­lympic Games is a great achieve­ment as ev­ery ath­lete wishes to rep­re­sent their coun­try at such global sporting events.

“It means a lot to me be­cause go­ing to the Par­a­lympics it’s a great achieve­ment. When I started com­pet­ing I was run­ning in the Zone Six. So my wish is to bring a gold medal back home.

“I am ex­cited and also ner­vous be­cause it’s my first time to com­pete in this event. But when you are an ath­lete you al­ways wish to rep­re­sent your coun­try, so it’s some­thing that was al­ways in my mind since I dis­cov­ered my tal­ent,” said Sit­hole.

Her coach, Maxwell Madzure, is up­beat they can pull off a surprise in Rio.

“I think she has reached the ex­pected fit­ness level for the com­pe­ti­tion. We are try­ing to re­duce her time of 12.47s to maybe 12.25s. So we will be work­ing on that since we have got six to seven days be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion starts when we ar­rive in Rio.

“In July we went to Ger­many, we were com­par­ing the times, it’s around 12.25s to 12.30s, so I think she will make it,” said Madzure.

Zim­babwe last won a medal at the Par­a­lympic Games in 2004 in Athens, Greece.

Michael Bu­la­gango

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.