Politics, sports should not mix

HARARE - For most people, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games really kicked off last night when Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt began competing.

That is, however, not the case for African countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana and Kenya who have already achieved a number of successes in the Scottish capital.

While Bolt’s appeal at the Games cannot be compared to that of the last Olympic Games in London two years ago, the stage has belonged to Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who has blown away the rest of the field.

Okagbare won the Games’ double gold when she repelled Jamaican’s Veronica Campbell-Brown to clinch the 100m dash before leaving the England duo of Jodie Williams and Bianca Williams in her dust to win the 200m event.

Botswana’s Nijel Amos proved to the entire world that Kenyan legend and world record holder David Rudisha is human after all by beating him for the gold in the 800m.

South Africa’s Andre Olivier ensured that it was an African 1,2 and 3 in that final by coming in third place to win the bronze medal.

As of yesterday, our neighbours South Africa were leading the medals standing on the African side with 11 gold medals, Nigeria were second with eight and Kenya had five gold medals to their name.

Sadly for Zimbabwean athletes, they are not part of the festivities in Glasgow all because of politics.

In 2003, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe had a nasty fall out with the British government led by Tony Blair and pulled out of the Commonwealth grouping.

Since then, local athletes no longer compete in any sporting competitions under the Commonwealth jurisdiction.

Zimbabwe’s most decorated athlete of all-time swimmer Kirsty Coventry, with seven Olympic medals, burst onto the scene at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games when she won gold in the 200m individual medley.

That victory in Manchester set the tone for Coventry’s swimming career as she went on to put up dominant performances at the Athens and Beijing Olympic games.

In 1998, boxer Alfonso Zvenyika was the reining Commonwealth Flyweight champion before his career went off the rails.

Nowadays, local athletes have been deprived of this opportunity to contest with some of the best in the world all because of political bickering.

The old African adage that says, “when elephants fight, it is the grass underneath that suffers,’ applies in this scenario.

    Comments (1)

    handiti mogorega ruharahwa guya guchingoita zvagunoda? gwaparadza nyika yedu nenharo.

    Tony Blair - 4 August 2014

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