|Mackenzie goes down|
|Monday, 30 July 2012 00:00|
Six Zimbabwean athletes are still in contention for medals at the on-going 2012 London Olympic Games following the elimination of young rower James Fraser-Mackenzie from the men’s single sculls event here on Saturday.
Fraser-Mackenzie failed to make the cut in the men’s single sculls event when he finished second last in Heat Three of the qualifying rounds at Eton Dorney, some 40 miles outside London, blowing his hopes of winning a medal at the London Games.
And after finishing second last in the opening heats on Saturday, Fraser- Mackenzie was then relegated to the repechage section of this event which was held yesterday.
A repechage is a round which offers a second chance to qualify either to the finals Group A or to the semi-finals round groups A/B, depending on the number of boats in the event.
And in yesterday’s men’s singles repechage 2, Zimbabwe’s Fraser-Mackenzie came third in 7:19.85 and was further relegated to the semi-finals of groups E/F which will be held tomorrow.
Although Fraser-Mackenzie is still competing at the London Games, he is technically out of contention for a medal in the men’s single sculls. And this means that Zimbabwe now has six athletes who still have a chance of winning a medal at the London Games — swimmer Kirsty Coventry, female rower Micheen Thornycroft, triathlete Chris Felgate and three marathon runners Wirimayi Juwawo, Cutbert Nyasango and Sharon Tavengwa.
Zimbabwe’s swimming icon Coventry began her quest for more glory at the Olympics in London yesterday when she made it into the semi-finals of the women’s 100m backstroke event which were scheduled for late last night.
Coventry made it into the semis of the women’s 100m backstroke after she finished fourth in yesterday morning's heats with a time of 1:00.24.
She swum in Heat Four which was won by Emily Seebohm of Australia in 58.23 seconds, relegating Great Britain's Georgia Davies (59.92) and Jing Zhao of China (59.97) into second and third places respectively.
Zimbabwe’s Coventry followed home in fourth, touching the wall in 1:00.24 and her time,which was 15th-best time in six of the women’s 100m backstroke, was good enough to qualify her for late last night’s semi-finals.
Interestingly, Seebohm’s winning time of 58.23 seconds in the heat in which she swum together with Coventry was a new Olympic record, erasing the old time of 58.77 that was set by the latter at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, China, four years ago.
Apart from taking part in the women’s 100m backstroke, Coventry will also take part in two more events at this year’s London Games — the 200 individual medley and 200m backstroke this week. She will take part in the opening heats of the 200IM this morning before she opens her defence of the 200m backstroke Olympic title on Thursday morning.
Coventry’s teammate in Team Zimbabwe at the London Games, rower Thornycroft is also still dreaming of winning a medal at these Games after pulled through to tomorrow’s quarter-finals of the women’s single sculls event on Saturday. Thornycroft performed brilliantly to finish third in Heat Two of the women’s single sculls qualifying rounds on Saturday afternoon at Eton Dorney to keep alive her hopes of reaching the final later this week.
In fact, Thornycroft indicated prior to her arrival in London for the 2012 Olympic Games that she dreams of making the Top 12 in the women's single sculls — an achievement no African rower has achieved in the history of the Olympics.
And the spotlight will once again fall on Thornycroft at these London Games when she returns to Eton Dorney tomorrow to take part in the quarter-finals of the women's single sculls, hoping to qualify for the semis.
Thornycroft and Coventry will only be the two Zimbabwean athletes who will be fighting for medals at the London Games this week as four other members of Team Zimbabwe - triathlete Felgate and three marathon runners Juwawo, Nyasango and Tavengwa will only enter into the fray next week.
Felgate will take part in the men's triathlon final on Tuesday next week, two days after Zimbabwe's top female long-distance runner Tavengwa had taken part in the women's marathon.
Male long-distance runners Juwawo and Nyasango are only expected to arrive here on August 6, six days before competing in the tough men’s marathon on the last day of this year’s London Games on Agust 12.
Triathlete Felgate is, meanwhile, training in Bath and his coach Wayne Davis said he is in good shape and gettng ready for his competition on August 7. Out of the seven Zimbabwean athletes taking part at the London Games, Coventry, Nyasango and Felgate have participated at the Olympic Games before while Tavengwa, Juwawo, Fraser-Mackenzie and Thornycroft are participating for the first time.