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Zimbabwe sports stars shine amid Covid-19 pandemic

by Staff reporter
27 Dec 2020 at 08:09hrs | Views
Copyright: - Stephanie Travers
THE outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year did cast its dark shadow over the 2020 sporting season.

Some sport codes lost at least four months while others resumed after eight months.

In Zimbabwe contact sports such as football, netball and rugby, to mention but a few, lost the entire year, while major international competitions such as the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympics were postponed.

But in spite of the crisis triggered by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, there are athletes and sports personalities that shone in the midst of the gloom and doom.

The Sports Hub looks at some of Zimbabwe's top 2020 sporting heroes who hoisted the country's flag up high on the international stage in the Covid-19 era this year.

Stephanie Travers

Mercedes-AMG Petronas trackside fluid engineer Stephanie Travers was arguably Zimbabwe's biggest sporting ambassador in 2020 after she became the first black woman to stand on a Formula 1 podium at Styrian Grand Prix in July.

Born in Zimbabwe 26 years ago before moving to the UK in 2004, Travers grabbed global attention after collecting the Constructor's Trophy on behalf of Mercedes and Petronas in Austria in July alongside drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

Across the globe, the moment was hailed as a significant milestone in Formula 1's 70-year history.

Legendary driver Hamilton, who has won a joint-record seven World Drivers' Championship titles, also took to social media praising the Zimbabwean chemical engineer.

Tino Kadewere

Tino Kadewere is Zimbabwe's hottest property in international football where he is scoring goals for fun in the French football league for giants Olympique Lyon.

When Kadewere made a €15 million move to the Ligue 1 side, many gave the player little chance of breaking into the first team, but he has surprised all and sundry by pinning down a regular and impressive goal return.

Kadewere boasts of seven goals and three assists in Ligue, to help his team perch at the top of the log standings after 17 matches.

The 24-year-old Zimbabwean forward has formed a lethal attack with Dutch star Memphis Depay and Cameroonian striker Karl Toko Ekambi. And this year Kadewere is easily Zimbabwe's biggest sporting hero on the international stage.

Blessing Muzarabani

Lanky cricketer Blessing Muzarabani starred with the ball as Zimbabwe recorded a historic one-day international (ODI) win over Pakistan in the third and final match of the series last month.

Muzarabani was returning to international cricket after he quit in 2018 and signed a Kolpak deal in 2018 with English county Northamptonshire.

Zimbabwe recorded a superover victory, their first in the subcontinent in five years since they beat the same opponents in 2015.

The 24-year-old showed his class restricting Pakistan to just two runs from the sudden-death over, removing Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil Shah.

Earlier, he had finished with impressive figures of 5-49 from his 10-over spell.

Themba Gorimbo

Zimbabwe's 2019 Sports Person of the Year Themba Gorimbo lifted the country's flag in mixed martial arts after he successfully defended the Extreme Fighting Championship welterweight title in March this year.

Gorimbo conquered the previously undefeated Australian Lyle Karam at the Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) 84 event at Time Square in Pretoria, South Africa.

It was a big step in his quest to break into the lucrative Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which is the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world based in the United States.

Karam submitted to a triangle choke inside two minutes and six seconds in the second round of the fight.

Anesu Mushangwe

Down Under, Zimbabwe women cricket star Anesu Mushangwe harvested an avalanche of individual accolades at the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) awards ceremony in September.

The 24-year-old cricketer starred with bat and ball for Glenelg District Cricket and helped them gain promotion to the SACA Grade A cricket league in a season that concluded in April.

Mushangwe won five awards, namely the Seafillies most outstanding women's club player, South Australia Lyn Fullstone Prize, best bowler at club, MVP award and best bowler in the league.

Felisitus Kwangwa

The Zimbabwe netball team captain made headlines early last month when she joined two-time English Super League champions Surrey Storm for the 2021 season.

Kwangwa had a scintillating 2019 World Cup campaign with the national team in Liverpool where she scooped Player of the Match accolades while she also led the competition in deflections.

Storms coach Mikki Austin had been after Kwangwa's signature since the World Cup and finally got her target in a move that was facilitated by an agent, Step Out 7.

Fortunate Chidzivo

Female long-distance runner Fortunate Chidzivo set a new national record of one hour 10 minutes, 50 seconds (1,10:50) despite finishing 27th at the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, in October.

Chidzivo eclipsed the previous women's half marathon national record of 1:11:25 which was set by Olympian Sharon Tavengwa at the Weir Venloop Half Marathon in Netherlands in 2012.

Mikayla Makwabarara

Teenage swimming sensation Mikayla Makwabarara broke the national 100-metre freestyle record held by decorated Olympian Kirsty Coventry late last month.

A 12-year-old Coventry set the 1 minute, 4.34 seconds record back in 1995 and it was only bettered on November 29 at Les Brown Pool in Harare, by Makwabarara also 12 years old who completed the race in 1 minute, 03.97seconds.

The Highlands Club swimmer set the new record during the Harare provincial inter-club swimming championships.

Source - the standard