Despite defying the odds and traveling 1 800km by road to Maputo, the Charles Manyuchi Sports Academy managed to collect two gold, three silver and three bronze medals at the just-ended Zone 4 Games.
They arrived home early yesterday morning after they earned their motherland a respectable third place among seven other nations which participated at the regional sports showcase.
Zimbabwe, owing to logistical bungling, failed to send a national team for the competition.
The hosts, Mozambique, took first place with five gold, South Africa were second with two gold and a number of silver and bronze while Zimbabwe (represented by the Manyuchi Academy) finished third.
Academy co-director Prosper Chibaya, who travelled with team, revealed it was a daunting task for the team.
“We had two breakdowns on the way to Maputo and by the time we arrived a day before weigh-in, everyone was suffering from fatigue and had to contend with swollen legs.
“But the spirit and determination was the driving force behind our performance,” she said.
Other countries represented were Seychelles, Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and the hosts, Mozambique.
A total of $10 860 was required for board and travel as well as affiliation fees, the costs of which were solely borne by the former champion’s project.
“We learnt quite a lot and could only marvel at how organised some, if not all, of the other countries were in terms of welfare of their athletes.
“They all came by air.
“But we never lost sight of the goal that we needed to also make our presence felt and we did our country proud and raised its flag quite high.
“We had to have a meeting with the squad every morning before the games to psyche them up and make them believe that the mode of transport one uses to a venue had nothing to do with the outcome,” said Chibaya.
Light welterweight Brendon “Boyka” Dennis and Future Masiye were the gold recipients for Zimbabwe.
Melisa Matanhike (bantamweight), Caroline Dube and Hassan Milanza got silver while the trio of Evans Husavihwevhu, Tinashe Majoni and Monica Mkandla settled for bronze.
Manyuchi, who is co-director of the academy, technical director Steven Masiyambumbi and coach Ali “Otto” Phirialso accompanied the team.
They were later joined by national team coach Alexander Kwangwari and referee/judge Ennet Chenge who went on to officiate.