Tirivashe Nheweyembwa, head of public relations for Team Zimbabwe that recently participated in the All-Africa Games held in Maputo, Mozambique, has urged the government to invest more in sport if the country is to make an impact at regional and international events.
Nheweyembwa’s comments came after the country’s varied performance at the Maputo games that ended on Sunday where Zimbabwe garnered 15 medals, with 11 of them coming from the women’s swimming team.
The country got six gold, seven silver and two bronze medals. Swimming queen Kirsty Coventry amassed a total of four gold medals and a silver, while fellow woman swimmer Nicole Horn managed two silvers and Samantha Welch weighed in with a bronze medal.
The women’s swimming relay team also bagged six silver medals.
The other two gold medals came from chess grandmaster Robert Gwaze and tennis sensation Takanyi Garanganga while Nyaradzai Tagarira managed a bronze.
The partnership of Garanganga and Mark Fynn also brought a silver medal for Zimbabwe.
The biggest undoing for Team Zimbabwe was the athletics team which failed to get a single medal while the highly regarded women’s football team, the Mighty Warriors, also choked at the games.
Team Zimbabwe was ranked 10th overall on the final medal count, a drop from their performance in the last edition when the country managed 26 medals to land at respectable eighth position.
Nheweyembwa reckons with proper preparations and government support, the team could have done much better.
“It was a mixed performance by the team, but we could have done better. Our preparations for the games were not ideal and the government should invest more in sport.
“While we applaud the government for chartering us a plane to Mozambique, I still think they could have done more for the athletes. I understand where our economy is coming from, but still the government should put sport as one of its priorities. All the structures (sports) should also be revived across the country because we noticed that most of our problems, especially in athletics, emanated from bad talent identification.
We went there with inadequate resources because you could see that our athletes were very short compared to the other countries who had big athletes, hence their bigger strides on the tracks.
“We were also seriously let down by our senior athletes like Ngoni Makusha, Gabriel Mvumvure and Brian Dzingai, who did not turn up for the games.
“We were in desperate need of their experience to lead the youngsters. Sometimes these athletes should learn to strike a balance between national assignments and other commitments,” said Nheweyembwa.
Team Zimbabwe arrived in the country in two groups, with the first batch arriving on Sunday while the rest jetted in on Monday.