THE Rowing Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) is in high spirits following the African Regional Indoor Rowing Championships held on November 28 where its teams took first and second position in a competition that was held in virtual format.

BY FREEMAN MAKOPA

A total of 12 Zimbabwean rowers took part in an event which attracted 459 rowers from 17 African countries.

This was the first time that Zimbabwean rowers competed international races since Zimbabwe went into COVID-19 lockdown in late March 2020.

RAZ president Andrew Lorimer expressed satisfaction over the team’s performance at the championships.

“This was the first time that many African rowing athletes had competed in a virtual indoor rowing regatta. Rowing athletes competed on indoor rowing machines linked to a computer and the internet from schools, gyms and rowing centres situated all over Africa. 44 races were held using the indoor rowing machine and racing over distances of between 500 metres, 1 000 metres and 2 000 metres,” he said.

“The Rowing Association of Zimbabwe is delighted with the performance of its athletes at the first African Continental Regional Indoor Rowing Championships,” he said.

In the Junior Women’s Under-14 event raced over 1 000 metres, Peterhouse Girls School student Danielle Kaschula became the African Indoor Rowing Champion in her age group with a first place finish.

Kaschula beat eight other athletes from South Africa and Tunisia in the category, winning her race in 3:45 seconds. This was 32 seconds faster than her closest rival.

In the Men’s’ Open 2 000-metre race, two Zimbabwean athletes finished in the top five in the category.

There were 14 athletes who entered in this race from Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Peter Purcell-Gilpin finished second in a time of 6 minutes and 2 seconds, while Andy Peebles came fifth in a time of six minutes and eleven seconds.

Purcell-Gilpin achieved automatic qualification for Zimbabwe to the World Indoor Rowing Championships to be held in March 2021. The race was won by an Egyptian athlete, Abdelkhalek Elbanna, in a time of five minutes fifty-seven seconds.

Purcell-Gilpin successfully qualified Zimbabwe for a place in the Men’s 1x (single scull event) at the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics, by winning a silver medal at the African Olympic Qualification Regatta in Tunisia in October 2019.

Purcell-Gilpin has also been training full-time in Australia and in England this year, putting in training of six days a week with a training mileage of up to 280km per week. In 2020 Purcell-Gilpin broke the Zimbabwe Men’s Open record for 2 000 metres.

Andy Peebles represented Zimbabwe in rowing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro in the Men’s 1x event.

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