Courtney Matende Midlands Reporter
National Youth and Paralympic games came to a close in Gweru on Saturday with Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry urging athletes to put their nation first.
Minister Coventry was addressing athletes, coaches and sports administrators at a ceremony to mark the conclusion of the national youth and Paralympic games in Gweru.
As the curtain come down various athletes who came out tops in the two-week sporting extravaganza walked away as winners at a function held at Mkoba Teachers’ College in Gweru.
The best female athlete was Elizabeth Msipa, an “O” Level pupil at Midlands Christian College, who won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and medley relay categories.
For her exploits Msipa walked away with about $500 from sponsors CABS and floating trophies.
The closing ceremony also saw the National Youth and Paralympic Games torch being handed to Mashonaland East province, the hosts for the 2020 Games.
In her official address Coventry urged athletes to give their best when representing the nation.
“I became a gold medallist at the Olympics because I put the national flag first before anything. I am hoping that there are going to be future Olympians from this team. Nothing comes easy. I was nine years old when I said I wanted to win gold for Zimbabwe and my daddy looked down at me smiling and said do you know how many medals you need to be there? And 12 years later thats when I won my first gold medal and I must say it was not easy . . . It was not easy,” she said.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima commended the organisers for coming up with an exciting edition of the Games that have raised the bar for other province.
“The assignment was not an easy one but because of the unwavering support that we received from the various stakeholders and partners, we managed to deliver the Games.
“Although I am happy with the work that was done by my local organising committee, there are lessons that we learnt along the way,” he said.
Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province Apollonia Munzverengi, whose province is set to host the 17th edition for the National Youth and Paralympic Games next year, says the pace set by the Midlands Province is commendable highlighting that she is already setting up a team that will make the event a resounding success.
“You have set a pace and given us a huge challenge to meet how you managed to host the Games. I take the challenge and I am already in the process of setting up a team that will surely make these Games continue to grow,” she said.
The two-week Games, that saw athletes from Matabeleland North province dominating in various disciplines, were held under the theme, “Enhance peace, love, unity, performance and economic development through sport”.