Former Zimbabwean Olympic athlete Lloyd Zvasiya has cleared the air surrounding his citizenship issue after reports yesterday suggested he was launching a bid to compete for Great Britain at the London Olympic Games in July.
Lloyd Zvasiya (30), brother to Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs central defender Lincoln Zvasiya, is scheduled to take part in the men’s 400m event at the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships being held in Sheffield today and tomorrow.
Zvasiya, who has been based in the UK for the past five years, said while the championships are specifically for British athletes, foreign athletes who had permanent residency in the UK, like him could also take part.
“Firstly it’s not true that I want to make the Great Britain team. I have been staying in the UK for the past five years and I have British permanent residency and I’m eligible to compete in the UK Indoor Trials and Championships,” said Zvasiya in an interview with NewsDay Sport from his base in the UK.
“Since I’m based here I’m taking part in the championships to try to meet the qualification criteria for the World Indoor Championships in Turkey,” he said.
National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Joseph Mungwari also poured water on the claims about Zvasiya’s citizenship change.
“We haven’t heard anything like that from both Zvasiya and UK Athletics.
“Even if he wanted to run for them he would not be allowed because it would be against the rules,” said Mungwari.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) introduced a new rule in 2005 barring track and field athletes who change nationality, to compete for their new country until three years after acquiring citizenship.
Previously, athletes were allowed to compete as soon as they completed three years without representing their old country in any major IAAF competition.
Now athletes must wait three years after being granted citizenship to compete in a major international event — or one year if both countries agree.
However, while Zvasiya claimed otherwise the entry list on the UK athletics official website indicated he was competing under the British flag.
As the penultimate trials before the Olympic trials in June 2012, the Aviva Indoor UK Trials and Championships are a chance for athletes to make their mark and win a place in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships taking place in March in Istanbul.
Zvasiya represented Zimbabwe at the 2004 Olympics in Greece, the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and various editions of the All-Africa Games and the African Athletics Championships — winning several medals along the way.
The Zimbabwean set his best indoor time of 47,81 seconds in Budapest, Hungary, in 2003. Since then, his times have fallen short of that high mark.
Zvasiya won national praise in 2004 at the African Athletics Championships in Brazzaville, Congo, when he got on the podium and sang the country’s national anthem after the organisers had played the wrong anthem.
Then he was part of the 4x100m relay team with Young Talkmore Nyongani, Themba Ncube and Lewis Banda.
Zvasiya, who lives in Birmingham, said after the indoor trials he was going to Chicago in the US where he would be training with his American coach Gerry Sutcliffe.