Zimbabwe end African Games run with gold

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Zimbabwe end African Games run with gold

The Sunday Mail

Petros Kausiyo

Sports Editor

THE 13th edition of the African Games came to an end with another colourful ceremony at the University of Ghana’s Legon Stadium in Accra, bringing the curtain down on a three-week extravaganza that showcased some of the continent’s finest sporting talent.
For Team Zimbabwe Chef De Mission (CDM) Eltah Nengomasha and her contingent of athletes, coaches, technical officials, and management, their tour of duty has been a largely successful one that reaped a commendable 11 medals.
They spiced their medal haul with gold from swimmer Denilson Cyprianos and the women’s cricket side, the Lady Chevrons.
And not to be outdone by their female colleagues, the Emerging Chevrons ensured Zimbabwe would leave Accra with another cricket gold yesterday.
In yesterday’s T20 final, the Chevrons trounced Southern African rivals Namibia with an emphatic eight-wicket victory.
Namibia’s captain Malan Kruger won the toss and elected to bat — a mistake the team did not take long to regret.
Zimbabwe’s bowling put in quite the shift as they restricted their opponents to just 113 for seven during their allotted 20 overs.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as Namibia found it hard to construct a decent partnership, despite getting a couple of lifelines as the Chevrons dropped two sitters.
Only Kruger managed to mount any form of resistance with an almost run-a-ball 22 off 21 balls right at the top of the Namibian innings.
Bowler-on-demand Owen Muzondo got the priceless wicket of Kruger as he was caught by Tadiwanashe Marumani in the 10th over to leave the silver medallists struggling at 59 runs for four.
The duo of JP Kotze and Dylan Leicher did mount some resistance in the middle order, with the latter chipping in 29 runs off 30 balls.
The Chevrons strolled their way to 114 for two led by Marumani’s defiant half-century.
Zimbabwe’s innings was the complete opposite of Namibia’s knock as the Chevrons cruised to victory led by two key partnerships and Marumani featured in both.
He began with a 55 runs off 45 balls opening stand together with Rodney Mupfudza and then shared another 56 runs with Jonathan Campbell (23).
Mupfudza was the first wicket to fall when he edged a Peter-Daniel Blignaut delivery to wicketkeeper Kotze, but not before giving Zimbabwe a solid start at 55 for one after seven overs.
His contribution ended at 24 runs off 25 balls.
Blignaut was on hand to break the second partnership when he bowled out Marumani for 58 runs off 40.
The duo of Campbell (23 runs off 24 balls) and Madande (1) finished unbeaten as Zimbabwe sealed the match inside 15 overs with as many as 31 balls to spare.
The cricketers were the last crew from Team Zimbabwe’s 10 sport codes at these Games to be in action.
On Friday, seasoned long-distance runner Isaac Mpofu, competing in the men’s 21km race, had added another bronze from athletics and for Team Zimbabwe, a day after Ashley Kamangirira won her medal when coming third in the women’s 100m hurdles.
The 26-year-old Kamangirira also set a new national record after clocking 13.59 seconds.
She, however, could not make it a medal double from the track as she came fourth in the 400m hurdles in 58.26 on Friday night. South African Samanth Joseph claimed gold (55.39) ahead of Morocco’s Noura Ennadi (55.85) and Linda Angounou of Cameroon, who completed the race in 56.41.
The two bronze medals from the hurdles and the half marathon left Team Zimbabwe deputy CDM (technical) and National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ) president Tendayi Tagara purring.
Tagara reserved some special praise for United States-based Kamangirira’s commitment to the cause of her motherland.
“These results are great,” Tagara said.
“This young lady Ashley is committed to her country. I was talking to her . . . she committed all her earnings in the last six months to preparing for this competition.
“This is the spirit of patriotism we cherish from our young ones and getting into the final and running along athletes who qualified for World champs pushed her to the limit,” Tagara added.
In a year in which West African countries, including Ghana, have been hit by a searing heatwave and humidity, making it harder for people to cool down by sweating, Mpofu was very happy with his performance in the half marathon in Accra.
“The heat here is too much. I have run some half marathon races in hot conditions before but these were the most difficult conditions I have ever encountered.
“I am happy that with the training I have been undergoing, I managed to cope and after a tough race I am good and I am feeling okay,” Mpofu explained.
Marathon specialist Mpofu, the first Zimbabwean to qualify for the Olympic Games scheduled for Paris in August, has since punching his ticket to the global sports showpiece been competing with one eye fixed on that sojourn in France.
“As far as the Olympic preparations are concerned, my preparations have been going on well and this achievement also shows that I am in the right direction ahead of Paris,” he said.
He will now leave Accra with his head high as he sets off for the United States to compete in next month’s Boston Marathon.
His coach Benson Chauke is also satisfied with how the 35-year-old veteran has been going about his business.
“It is always a great achievement for one to land a podium finish at a grand African athletics showcase,” Chauke noted.
“I am happy for Isaac and Ashley. They had outstanding performances. For an athlete to achieve what they have both achieved gives them great hope.
“It inspires them and others for greater performances in the future.
“As for Isaac, he continues to inspire everyone who has been following his athletics career. All I can say is well done Mhofu,” he said.

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