Ellina Mhlanga–Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) is hoping to qualify at least 10 individual sport athletes and one team sport for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Currently, only two athletes have qualified, marathon runner Isaac Mpofu and rower Stephen Cox.
Mpofu secured his qualification in Valencia last year, while Cox qualified for the men’s single scull last week in Tunisia.
ZOC chief executive, Marlene Gadzirayi, said they remain hopeful as qualifiers are still ongoing.
The hockey team is also still chasing qualification, with both the men’s and women’s senior teams taking part in the ongoing Olympic qualifiers in South Africa. Zimbabwe had a small team at the previous games in Tokyo and is targeting an improved number for Team Zimbabwe at next year’s games.
“Qualifiers are still ongoing and we are keeping our hopes high, and maintaining a positive attitude. Although both our male and female rugby sevens teams failed to qualify, we have hockey qualifiers coming up and we are pinning our hopes on the team to qualify,” said Gadzirayi.
Cox and Mpofu are beneficiaries of the 2022 to 2024 Olympic Solidarity scholarships.
The other beneficiaries are triathlete Andie Kuipers, swimmer Donata Katai and Nomvula Mjimba, judoka Christi-Rose Prestorius, Justine Carla Hobbs (rowing), Fortunate Chidzivo, Tonotenda Matiyenga and Chengetayi Mapaya (athletics).
They are all still chasing qualification for next year.
“The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee is excited and proud that Stephen qualified for the men’s single scull rowing event (M1x). This was at the Africa Olympic Qualification Regatta (AOQR)/Africa Rowing Championships held in Tunisia, where he came fourth in a time of 7 minutes 25 seconds. The top 5 at the competition qualified for Paris 2024,” said Gadzirayi.
Zimbabwe had three representatives at the Africa Olympic Qualification Regatta (AOQR)/Africa Rowing Championships with the Plunket brothers, Patrick and Rory, racing in the Men’s Light Weight Double Scull event (LM2x).
However, they were not able to achieve Paris 2024 Olympic qualification, having finished fourth in an event where only the first placed boat qualified for the Olympics.
They completed the race in 6 minutes 4 seconds and were 12 seconds behind the winners.
Zimbabwe had five athletes made up of golfer Scott Vincent, swimmer Donata Katai, sprinter Ngoni Makusha and rower Peter Purcell-Gilpin at the last Olympics.