Just three weeks before the Rio Olympics roar into life, the Zimbabwe Olympics Committee (ZOC) says preparations for the world sport’s biggest showpiece are at an advanced stage.
Zimbabwe is preparing to send the second largest Olympic team in history to represent the country in Brazil.
As many as 31 athletes have qualified for the Games, 11 short of the 42 that flew the country’s flag high at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
Interestingly, like in 1980, this year’s squad includes one team sport squad, after the Mighty Warriors qualified for the first time. In Moscow, Zimbabwe had the women’s hockey team that went on to win gold.
Team Zimbabwe chef de mission Titus Zvomuya, said he expected all athletes to be competitive. There is representation in several sporting disciplines such as athletics, equestrian, archery, rowing, swimming, shooting and football.
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Zvomuya revealed that the team would start departing in batches at the end of the month.
Zimbabwe’s top-ranked male archer Gavin Sutherland will be the first archer to represent the country at the Olympics since Wrex Tarr’s appearance in Seoul, South Korea, 28 years ago.
Zvomuya expressed excitement at the fact that the Mighty Warriors will be participating at the Olympics for the first time, but said he was worried about lack of support for the team. Zvomuya said swimmer Kirsty Coventry is once again expected to fly the flag high for the country.
Michael Nicholson qualified by winning the African Championship in Cairo in November 2015 with a score of 120 and also represented Zimbabwe at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games in the double trap shooting by virtue of having accepted an invitation from the International Shooting Sport Federation, based on his performance at the African Championships.
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Marathon runners Wirimayi Juwawo, Pardon Ndhlovu, Gilbert Mutandiro and Cuthbert Nyasango will be joined by sprinters Gabriel Mvumvure and Tatenda Tsumba.
Two rowers Micheen Thornycroft and Peter Purcell-Gilpin have also qualified for the Games.
The team will be presented to Hlongwane at a fundraising dinner at Rainbow Towers on Wednesday evening.