BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
After an impressive performance by the country’s five representatives at the in augural Pan African Games in Egypt last week, Special Olympics Zimbabwe (SOZ) already are looking to do better at the next edition set for Rwanda in two years’ time.
Zimbabwe put up a sterling show which saw them bag eight medals, four gold and four silver, at the first continental Special Olympics event.
Sprint queen Barbra Njovo grabbed gold in the 100m and 200m while Mufarowashe Shambira (400m) and captain Patience Zvikomborero Mudarikwa (400m) also won gold in their respective categories.
The silver medals came from Lisalobuhle Hleza (100 & 200m) as well as Mufarowashe Shambira (800m) and Kadoma-based Cleo Mero pulled strongly in the last 50m to finish second.
“We want to come up with strategies to prepare our athletes. Next year we have the Winter Games and 2022 Pan Africa Games in Rwanda. This time we want to come back with at least 10 gold medals,” SOZ national director Paul Kaunda told Standardsport.
“In 2023 there will be the Berlin Special Olympic World Games so we need to make sure that we prepare our teams in time. We will have a number of local competitions in different provinces to enable us to select athletes who can meet the standard time required so that we can assemble a strong team for Zimbabwe,” Kaunda said.
The top performer Njovo was not new to competing at such a big stage after she won silver in 200m dash at Abu Dhabi World Games last year.
Kaunda spoke on some of the lessons learnt at the Pan African Games
“Lessons learnt during the Pan African Games include early preparations where some of the countries were saying they had a lot of time in camp and received necessary resources in time, which helped them manage to assemble strong teams.
“As coaches we also need to motivate athletes considering the fact that the athletes were participating on a daily basis so they will get tired mentally and physically. Other coaches from other countries would sit down with their athletes explaining to them how they performed during the race so that going forward they would improve,” Kaunda said.
Over 1 000 athletes from 47 African countries with Special Olympics programmes participated at the event which ran for one week.