HomeSportWesterhout’s heart bleeding for Zim sport

Westerhout’s heart bleeding for Zim sport

The book, with a faded cover, carries profiles of Rhodesia’s greatest sports personalities from 1907 up to 1979 with the 75-year-old being one of the stars.
“This book sums up the talent that this country can produce. If we produced such athletes before, what can stop us now? We still have the same school structures, so why are we performing badly?” said the highly rated academic and multi-talented sportsman.

“It is unfortunate that everything in this country has been politicised thereby ruining standards of sport. Everything has been politicised in sports administration and there is too much bickering.

“Cricket is a good example of what bickering and politicisation can do to a sport. For two World Cups, we had managed to reach the Super Six stage. Now records are being made against us. Today we are doing very badly.”

He also talked about the good days when sports administrators were in the sport, not for monetary gain, but the development of the disciplines.
“Administrators in the past worked hard to develop their sports. That is the reason why Zimbabwe was admitted as a Test playing nation in cricket. That was not an overnight success as some people worked very hard for it.

“Also look at our top performers in the country. Kirsty Coventry developed her ability in America and we are not doing enough to mould other top athletes. This is a shame. Another area that upsets me is the lack of progress in Paralympics which is not being developed. We also have people who chair Athletics boards, but when last did we have national championships?” he said.

Westerhout, also a former top hurdler, lamented the death of motor cycling in the country.

“This country has produced three international greats in Ray Amm, Gary Hocking and Jim Redman, but where is the sport now? We should inculcate a culture that makes our kids identify themselves with these greats. Finland is a country with a history of javelin throwing and they have kept it that way. Tradition, history and culture are important in sport.

“We have also produced cricketers such as Colin Bland (he was the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1966) who in my view is the greatest fielder in the history of the game. Many of our young players have never heard of him,” he said.


Olympian’s Games experience

 

Westerhout also spoke of his experiences at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games where he represented Zimbabwe in shooting.

“The whole trip to Russia was extraordinary. We used an Airforce plane to take us to Zambia on our way to Russia and when we got there, I broke my gun at the first session. Russians refused to lend me a practicing gun.

“My gun was only repaired on the eve of the competition and was not motivated when the tournament began. Maybe that explains why we did not do well,” said the former Zimbabwe Olympic Committee vice-president.

Westerhout’s other areas of speciality

 

Westerhout, who is a fellow of the British College of Optometry was born in England on May 20 1936, but migrated to Zimbabwe a year after graduating from the University of London in 1958 to pursue his career as an optometrist.

At the age of 18, Westerhout won the All England School’s javelin event and became the top ranked javelin thrower in the United Kingdom.
The feat saw him being selected into the British Olympic team, but an injury ruled him out. He then took hurdling at which he competed in the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958.

Upon his retirement from athletics, he took up the sports of rugby and cricket before developing an interest in shooting where he captained Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in consecutive pistol Shooting World Championships.

He then represented Zimbabwe at the 1977 World Practical Championship which he won and his country won the team event.

Westerhout, who was voted the Sports Person of the Year in 1977 was not only talented in sport but is a respected professor who has lectured in England, America, Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Russia.

On top of giving public lectures on sports vision and sports psychology, Westerhout has published numerous scientific papers and is a co-author of the standard British text book on contact lenses.

Some of his published works include The Sporting Contact Lens Wearer, Contact Lens Practice in Rhodesia, Pregnancy and Contact Lens Problems, among a host of others. The former visiting professor at the University of Houston’s writing prowess saw him being awarded the JL Saks Literary Award.

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