Zim judokas off to Chad

HARARE - Zimbabwe judokas Lazarus Arufandika and Sydney Chibwayi leave for Chad this morning for a week-long City of N’Ndjamena Judo tournament.

Coach Smart Tiyazimba will be accompanying the duo to the Central African country.

While in Chad, Tiyazimbi will attend a Level 3 coaching course, an Information Technology course on how to run competitions fully computerised and an International Refereeing course.

The trio’s trip and stay in Chad is being fully funded by the International Judo Federation (IJF) which has come as a welcome relief to the Judo Association of Zimbabwe (Jaz), which operates on a shoe-string budget.

Jaz president Debbie Jeans was pleased with the development as they will be using the tournament to start fine tuning Arufandika and Chibwayi for 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualification.

“This has been a wonderful gift to start off 2014 with because this is part of our Olympic programme to appeal for assistance from the International Judo Federation (IJF) and they have heard our appeal,” Jeans told the Daily News yesterday.

“I met the president of Chad in Rio at the World Championships at the end of last year. He was allowed to invite a few countries which would be paid for by the IJF and Zimbabwe is one of those countries.

“So basically what it does is that it allows our two that we have identified for the long-term Olympic athlete development programme for Rio to start off the year with an international tournament, which is of a good level.”

Chibwayi, who will be competing in the Under 81 category, is excited with his tour of duty.

“This is an Olympic Games qualifier and I need to win for me to be certain that I qualify. We have been preparing for this event since last year,” Chibwayi, who is also a fitness instructor, told the Daily News.

“We started training last February because we were scheduled to go to the African Championships but we failed to make it. Our training has been intense since then. For the past two week we have been training every day for this competition.

“I feel really good because of this opportunity. It’s been a year since we missed the opportunity to go to the African Championships thereby we have had more time to prepare.”

The 20-year-old Arufandika has been on a constant rise in local judo circles and represented Zimbabwe at the World Championships in Brazil last August.

“We are really chuffed about this opportunity and hopefully we are going to get more funding in judo to help us improve. It’s very difficult for us to get funding in this sport and we just hope that we will get more sponsors in the future,” said Arufandika, who will be competing in the Under-60 category.

“I think I’m going to achieve more because I think I have improved a lot from my performance at the World Champs in Brazil. While in Brazil I learned that you have to be focused and train hard for the fight. So far I have had a lot of training sessions doing functional and strengthen workouts.

“I have also done a lot of judo. In Chad we are going to come up against some guys we have not fought against yet so it’s going to be hard.”

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