Ellina Mhlanga, senior sports journalist
IT IS just two weeks before the end of the year and for sport in Zimbabwe 2021 has been a sack of mixed fortunes with some positives, ups and downs as the world continues to adjust to the news. normality due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike the previous year when sport was hugely ravaged by the pandemic, 2021 saw some improvements with more sporting activities on the local scene finding their way back, especially sporting codes that had been classified as high risk.
These include soccer, netball, and karate, among others.
While it hasn’t been on a large scale with netball leagues having accelerated programs, it has brought joy and hope to local sports fanatics.
In late July, Zimbabwe competed in the rescheduled 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
It was a small team of five athletes – Ngoni Makusha in track and field, swimmers Donata Katai and Peter Wetzlar, golfer Scott Vincent and rower Peter Purcell-Gilpin.
The highlight of the team was the young Katai.
Competing for the first time in the Olympics, Katai came first in her heats in the women’s 100m backstroke with a time of 1 minute 02.73 seconds, setting a new personal best as she made history by becoming the first swimmer. black Zimbabwean woman to compete in the Olympics. world flagship multisport.
She may not have won a medal, but the teenage swimmer’s appearance at the Games was an inspiration to many young athletes that with determination anything is possible.
Katai was also part of the swim team that won 26 medals for Team Zimbabwe in the five African Union Sports Council Youth Games which were recently held in Maseru, Lesotho.
Swimming has been the Zimbabwe team’s main contributor to the Regional Games.
It was also a good year for golfer Scott Vincent. He became the first local golfer to represent the country at the Olympics and finished in 16th place.
It was the best performance of the Zimbabwe team.
Vincent went on to win the Sansan KBC Augusta and the ANA Open in Japan.
Football rebounded with the Chibuku Super Cup played in a mini-league format. The tournament began in May before being suspended en route due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But he returned at the end of September and the final was played earlier this month with FC Platinum winning the trophy after beating Ngezi Platinum in Mandava.
Premier Soccer League matches are also underway, although they are still in their infancy. The league did not kick off last year due to Covid-19.
Zimbabwe’s senior netball team returned to international competition for the first time in two years when they competed in the Pent Series and Africa Cup of netball in Windhoek, Namibia in November.
The Gems last competed internationally in 2019 and their last event then was the African Cup of Netball in South Africa.
Since then, they had not regrouped due to the Covid-19 pandemic until the Pent Series and Africa Netball Cup.
Triathlon Zimbabwe sent a team to Egypt for the African Championships and won medals there. They also managed to host the Bonaqua Africa Triathlon Cup Troutbeck in September.
In cricket, the Lady Chevrons achieved One Day International status which brought joy to the women’s cricket team and their first ODI series was against Ireland.
In the series’ captain’s debut match, Mary-Anne Musonda wrote her own piece of history when she became the first Zimbabwe cricketer to record a Century ODI, at Harare Sports Club, in October.
Zimbabwe then hosted the qualification for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup before it was canceled due to the introduction of travel restrictions for a number of African countries, including Zimbabwe, to the following the appearance of a new variant of the coronavirus last month.
Nine countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, the United States, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, the West Indies, Ireland and host Zimbabwe – took part in the World Cup qualifier in Harare .
Having the right to host the event and bring in teams for the event during those limited days was a positive thing for local sport and the country as a whole.
The Chevrons have also done a few tours, including a UK tour. Former captain Brendan Taylor played his last international match on this tour as he retired from international cricket in September.
Zimbabwe Cricket then received good news when they were announced as co-hosts of the 2027 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup alongside South Africa and Namibia by the International Cricket Council, which was a welcome development.
In motorsport, Emmanuel Bako was a forerunner by becoming three-time champion in South Africa after winning many events, including the national motocross championship of this country, in the 85cc Pro Mini category.
The Bogwheelers Club, which leads the motorcycle sport of motocross in this country, also managed to host five rounds of its national championship series as well as the Zimbabwe Summer Series, which took place last weekend at Donnybrook Park Raceway in Harare. .
And seven-year-old driver Victor Nyamupfukudza wrote his own piece of history when he claimed victory in the 50cc class, winning his first major title in his promising career.
The Zimbabwe Summer Series also saw a prominent local businessman, Alex ” Dr Mash ” Mashamhanda, come on board, as he provided financial assistance to Nyamupfukudza, through his company, Mashwede Holdings, and this prompted the promising young rider to claim victory in the 50cc Class.
Donnybrook Raceway Park has also hosted a number of karting events during the year.
Zimbabwean professional golfer Robson Chinhoi has won two Safari Tour Series in Kenya and was crowned 2021 Seed Co Malawi Open champion in Lilongwe.
Bodybuidling was not to be outdone and bodybuilder Regina Jonga stood out at the XFE Classic held in South Africa by winning the women’s first division.
In contrast, for the second year in a row, there are no Football League Champions and Football Star of the Year.
The National Women’s Under-21 Hockey Team cried after the FIH Women’s Junior World Cup of Hockey scheduled to take place in Potchefstroom, South Africa was postponed until the 11th hour due to Covid-19 .
Zimbabwe cricket has been rocked by the Heath Streak scandal which saw it banned by the International Cricket Council from all international cricket for eight years after being found on the wrong side in a match-fixing scandal.
These are some of the highlights of 2021, but looking at the bright side of it, steps have been taken towards the resumption of the sport and hopefully 2022 will bring better fortune.