Zimbabwe took part in 17 sporting disciplines — athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, chess, cycling, football, judo, karate, netball, sailing sports for people with disability, swimming, table tennis, lawn tennis, taekwondo and triathlon at the games that ran from September 2 to 18 in Maputo, Mozambique.
The country won 15 medals – six gold, seven silver and two bronze — to finish on position 10 out of 44 countries. However, of the six gold medals, Coventry raked in four with chess master Robert Gwaze and tennis ace Takanyi Garanganga notching one apiece.
Coventry also won a silver medal before teaming up with Samantha Welch, Nicole Horn and Kirsten Lapham to win three more silver medals. Horn won two silver medals in 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Nyaradzai Tagarira won a silver medal while Welch got a bronze medal and so did the tennis doubles partnership of Garanganga and Mark Fynn.
Team Zimbabwe chef de mission Custom Kachambwa said there was a great need to widen the nets and expose the athletes to intensive competition in preparation for the next edition of the All Africa Games to be held in four years’ time.
“It is unfortunate that most of our medals came from swimming and we rely heavily on Coventry. “We also need to increase participants in future events as did countries such as South Africa that had many swimmers.
“We ended up without representatives in some races and that gave other countries an advantage,” he said. Kachambwa also added that the absence of top athletes such as Ngoni Makusha, Gabriel Mumvure and Brian Dzingai contributed to the team’s poor performance. Dzingai failed to travel owing to an injury while Makusha and Mumvure were taking part at the World Championships.
“The withdrawal of these athletes forced us to use inexperienced athletes who are not used to such big events. The performance was very much below the one posted at the 2007 All Africa Games where the country hauled 23 medals in Algeria.
“In Mumvure, Makusha and Dzingai we might have got at least two gold medals and that might have left us at position five,” he said. In the trio’s absence, Francis Zimwara reached the finals of the 200m race, but finished on position five.
Together with Tinashe Mutanga, they were knocked out in the semi-finals of the 100m. South Africa concluded the games as the top nation with a total of 151 medals (60 gold, 52 silver and 39 bronze while Nigeria were second placed with 80 medals (27 gold, 22 silver and 31 bronze.)
TEAMS PERFORMANCE BELOW PAR
Team sports code was also a disappointment for Zimbabwe as no team progressed beyond the group stages. The basketball team won two of their games against Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but lost to Mozambique, Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria and Cameroon while the women’s football team lost to South Africa, Ghana and drew against Tanzania.
“The general performance of team sports was just not pleasing. Our basketball team prepared well, but lack of experience was their biggest undoing.
“As for the women soccer team, I think it was because of burn out. The team had taken part at the Cosafa tournament and also played some games in Germany.
“I also think that the netball team that won three of their eight matches could have done better had it not been of poor officiating and lack of experience,” he said.
Kachambwa concluded that most of the sporting disciplines were also affected by inexperience, hence the need to be exposed to great competitions.