Story by Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
THE African Union Sports Council Region Five Youth games ended in Malawi this Sunday with Zimbabwe finishing second behind South Africa in medals accumulated.
Team Zimbabwe amassed 82 medals, a record high for the country since the first games in 2002, and they also achieved 39 more medals than the 49 they achieved in the previous games.
Six athletes also qualified for the African Games set to be staged next year in Accra.
For the first time at the games, one country managed to grab all the gold medals in a sport code and that was Team Zimbabwe grabbing all the six gold medals on offer in tennis.
Flag bearer Bennedict Badza and compatriot, Rufaro Magarira both won four gold medals each.
“We just told ourselves to work hard and show that the ITF rankings are no fluke and it’s worked out. Hard work pays and it still feels like a dream,” he said.
The boys’ volleyball team also grabbed gold for the first time at the games after beating South Africa in the final.
“Anything is very possible if you do things right. We did a very good job in selection and there was continuity from the last edition, then we trained very hard and lastly, we applied ourselves well and yes here we are now,” said Volleyball coach, Mthulisi Mlilo.
At the end, Team Zimbabwe had 12 gold, 24 silver and 48 bronze medals as they shift focus to the African Games in Accra.
“Very successful games here and it’s good that they have become even more important. They are now qualifiers for major regional and international tournaments then also, if you look at the starts we have produced here, Collins Mbesuma, Partson Daka, Wayde Van Niekerk, Donata Katai to mention just but a few, have gone on to conquer the world. It means we are doing a good job,” said Region Five CEO, Stan Mutoya.