THE Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) will assist the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) in their efforts to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games when they take part in the HSBC World Sevens Series in May next year.
The Cheetahs, Zimbabwe Sevens national team, qualified to play in the Olympic Qualifiers following their third-place finish at the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Africa Cup Sevens Tournament in Harare in November last year.
The most successful team in the country has been the Hockey Golden Girls of 1980 who won gold.
“Rugby is getting a team support grant to help with its qualifiers. We have applied for a grant we do not have issues (with the Olympic Solidarity Commission),” said Admire Masenda ,the ZOC president in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
He said the amount the ZRU would receive would depend on their needs.
“It’s a question of what they looking for. But it would not be less than $42 000 but they also have to motivate case for us to assist them. In 2012, hockey received $42 000 so it is likely rugby will receive the same,” said Masenda.
ZOC which also has a scholarship programme previously assisted the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe when they hosted the Africa Olympic Qualifiers in Bulawayo in 2012.
However both the men and women’s teams did not qualify with South Africa making it to the grand stage.
Masenda said in terms of their scholarship programme they have 10 athletes who are being funded.
“Kirsty Coventry, Robin Leigh, Chad Idenhson, James Lawson all from swimming, athletes Cuthbert Nyasango, Wirimai Zhuwawo, Ngoni Makusha and Gabriel Mvumvure and rowers Micheen Thornycroft and Peter Purcell are in the scholarship programme,” he said.
“Generally all have a fair chance to qualify for the games. I believe that Kirsty (Coventry) will not struggle to qualify. She has decided to swim again based in USA where she feels her preparations are that much better for her. Her goal is for her to get at least one more medal before she retires,” he said.
In 2012 Zimbabwe had seven athletes but Masenda said they were likely to send another small contingent next year but it would also depend on the qualification of the team sports.
“It is going to be a small team. In 1980 we had 42 athletes. Team sport has not qualified and that is why the size of our teams are relatively small. Over the years qualifying standards have gone up and it is critical stuff for guys to go to the games. In the past there was the B standard and you would be allowed. It is getting more complicated as the competitiveness has gone up,” he said of qualification to the Olympics.