Zimbabwe’s Artistic Gymnastics junior team exceeded expectations after winning the silver medal overall at the 2015 Region 5 Gymnastics Competition which kicked off in South Africa on Monday. BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Zimbabwe team, which left the country on Sunday, did not waste time to settle down, as they finished ahead of Namibia and Mozambique, while coming second to their superior hosts South Africa.
Angola and Lesotho were initially scheduled to feature in the competition, but could not attend due to financial constraints.
Over 300 gymnasts and 50 officials are taking part in the competition, which features developmental level gymnasts across the disciplines of artistic, aerobic, rhythmic, trampoline and tumbling.
One of Zimbabwe’s most promising young gymnasts, Rebecca Conlon, was the star of the team after clinching the gold medal in the vault, beating all the competitors in that category.
Conlon followed that up with three bronze medals for floor, bar and beam apparatus while the rest of the team, Kira Partel, Nina Katsande and Bronwyn Smyth, also weighed in with valuable points that catapulted the Zimbabwe team to the silver medal.
Zimbabwe coach Chris Muchatuta said he was very proud of the girls and the improvement in their performance in this year’s competition.
“To really put into perspective the girls’ achievement at this competition, one needs to understand that there were 36 girls in total in this competition with other countries – namely Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa the hosts – having more gymnasts in their teams, compared to four only for Zimbabwe,” he said.
Simba Katsande, the Zimbabwe Gymnastics Committee member, attributed the girls’ success to hard work by the girls, coaches and everyone involved in Zimbabwe gymnastics.
“With better government support financially, equipment and facilities, the team can do a lot better. We need to move the sport from being a minority sport to a point where all our primary schools take gymnastics as one of their sports.”
Zimbabwe’s rhythmic gymnastics team was expected to start their competition yesterday through to Friday, while the artistic team finish off with the Mini Trampoline today