All-Africa Games team rewarded

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Team Zimbabwe athletes who recently participated at the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, were rewarded for their efforts by President Robert Mugabe at a colourful reception held at State House on Monday.

Prize money of $5 000 was given for every gold medal, $3 000 for silver while $2 000 was for every bronze medal.

The athletes who failed to win at the games were not left out as they were each given a $300 appearance fee.

Swimming queen Kirsty Coventry emerged with the biggest purse after she won four gold and a silver medal as an individual, before scooping a silver medal with the women’s swimming relay team which included young Samantha Welch, Nicole Horn and Kirsten Lapham.

Horn won two silver medals while 15-year-old Welch won a bronze medal in addition to those they won as a relay team.

Chess grandmaster Robert Gwaze was all smiles as he received $5 000 while tennis sensation Takanyi Garanganga got $8 000 for a gold he won as an individual and $3 000 for winning silver in the men’s doubles when he partnered Mark Fynn.

Nyaradzai Tagarira was another notable winner, pocketing $2 000. The visually impaired athlete came third in the 100m T13, the only medal the country won in athletics.

While commending an average performance by the team, President Mugabe said with adequate funding and preparation, the team could have done better.

Team Zimbabwe was ranked 11th in the final medal count after they amassed six gold, seven silver and two bronze medals, a notable drop from their performance at the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algeria when the country managed 26 medals, ending the games in a respectable eighth position.

“Government recognises that Zimbabwe has great potential to excel beyond our current achievements in sport. A number of areas will need special attention if we are to achieve that objective. One of the key issues that the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture in conjunction with the Sports and Recreation Commission will need to work on is the development of the national sports strategy.

“As a nation, we need to identify where our greatest potential lies and to ensure that our investment in sport is consistent with the identified priorities. The national sport template should therefore provide a blueprint which, in turn, will ensure that our success as a sporting nation is premised on deliberate strategic interventions rather than on chance or flukes which do not give an accurate measure of our sporting prowess.”

The President added: “Central government will need to review its funding model for sport in order to avoid a situation where funds for different national teams are provided on the eve of the competition.

“We also need to infuse the latest technologies that some leading sporting nations are making use of in order to more accurately assess our progress towards achieving the identified strategic objectives. To achieve this, it is necessary to mobilise adequate resources to fund the preparations.”