The Zimbabwe BMX team will go into next month’s ICU BMX World Championship in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium looking to garner enough points to push for a place at the 2016 Olympic Games set for Rio de Janeiro.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Made up of 13 athletes, the Zimbabwe team has been preparing for the July 17-25 event since February under the watchful eye of long-serving coach Tafi Machingaidze.
Machingaidze told Standardsport that the team has been preparing for the Europe trip since February.
“We started preparations for the ‘worlds’ back in February; we usually like to have at least six months of getting ready as a team and we always met in between local tournaments with focus on the upcoming world championships,” he said.
Last year Zimbabwe produced a world champion in the form of Rebekah Oberholzer, who was six years old at the time. The seven year-old remains the country’s top medal hopeful in her age group.
The team also boasts of other top riders, including world number seven Daniel Johnson (12), Ben Oberholzer (10), who is an intercontinental champion, Daniel Collet (8), Nathan Horner (7), world number six Tyla-Shae Donaldson (13), as well as brother Scott Donaldson who competes in the elite class.
While Machingaidze is looking forward to a fruitful world championship expedition, he hopes that the team will garner enough points to enable the country to send a rider to the Olympics.
“We had a very good tournament last year and we are hoping to do better this year. This time around, our riders will be looking to push into the top eight or even go further so that we get enough points to get to the Olympics,” said Machingaidze.
“We have to qualify at least one rider to represent Zimbabwe at the Olympics based on points that we get from such meetings and we have another continental race that we are hosting, which also gives us a chance to get points, so we are hopeful to send representatives to Rio next year,” he said.
BMX will be making its third Olympic appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games set for August 5-21 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Some of Zimbabwe’s riders have competed in the European Cup in Belgium, the British National Championship as well as the South African National Age Group Series in the past three months which gives the team more confidence.
BMX World Championships team
Rebekah Oberholzer, Tyla-Shae Donaldson
Nathan Horner, Daniel Collet, Ben Oberholzer, Mitchell Siddle, Joshua van Blerk, Daniel Johnson, Cambel Wright, Andrew Chamunorwa, Penias Tenthani, Scott Donaldson, Tawanda Marowa.