Chasing Smiles

Smile for the Zimbabwe Adaptive Rowing team

Smile for the Zimbabwe Adaptive Rowing team

“This team are forging the way forward not just for Zimbabwe, but for Africa. There is so much potential in this country that it is unbelievable.” – Rachel Davis, team coach

Rachel and her team will fly on Monday to Gavirate, Italy with the only African para-rowing team in the competition – the Zimbabwe national adaptive rowing team. Awesome! Well done Zimbabwe.
The story of Chipo, Maragret, Jessica, Previous and Takudzwa is not about glory and prestige but rather one of bravery, community and insurmountable odds. If you have watched the movie ‘Cool Runnings’ then you will understand this team. Rachel put the team together a month ago at the request of the International Rowing Committee who were looking to increase African representation at the Rio games. She put the word out and miraculously, Chipo Zhento, Maragret Bangalena, Jessica Davis, Previous Wiri and Takudzwa Gwariro came together to form Zimbabwe’s wildcard team. 3 of the 5 team members only learnt to swim two weeks ago. They have been training in what Rachel describes as ‘antiquated equipment’ and they were kindly donated second-hand wet suits. Next week they will be representing Zimbabwe in an Olympic qualification event. Yes they will probably not win, or even come close to getting a podium finish but they may stand a chance at winning a wild card spot to the 2016 Rio Olympics later this year. How cool would that be? The individual bravery and willingness to try against all odds is reason enough for Zimbabweans to get behind this team. This team embodies the true meaning of ambition and tenacity and above all, hope.
Lakewood Transport have been instrumental in making this dream a reality. The company have gone above and beyond by donating required cash to get them to the competition, a mini van to transport the athletes between Harare and Mazowe Dam for training and have supported the team’s needs as much as possible. A local doctor and two Norwegian physiotherapists have voluntarily worked with the team in order to meet Olympic classification requirements. The Department of the Registrar General helped to ensure passports, birth certificates and necessary documents were speedily and freely available. Everything has magically come together to send five young, courageous Zimbabweans to Italy to try for an Olympic wildcard. Wow!
If you would like to see the team off and wish them well, they will be leaving from St Georges College on Monday 11th of April at 3pm. Good luck team! Bad Rabbit will follow your journey. Enda zvakanaka!
Follow thier journey on the Facebook page ‘Zimbabwe Rowing Athletes’ Commission’

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