Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
PARA-BADMINTON athlete, Stellah Jongwe, has set her sights on qualifying for the world championships next year.
She won two bronze medals, in her inaugural international competition in Kampala, Uganda, over the weekend.
The 20-year-old came out third in the wheelchair and standing lower categories, at the annual Uganda International Para-Badminton contest, which ran from November 13-21.
She defied the odds, in a competition graced by the best para-athletes drawn from over 21 countries, across the globe.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to win anything from this tournament given I am still a novice in this game,” she said.
“I am over the moon right now. It was quite an experience, just competing against the best from the world.
“At first I was very nervous but I gathered composure as the games passed by. “I then started to pick up confidence, by each passing game, and that’s how I realised I could actually grab some prizes.
“The coach (Willard Alfonso) kept on motivating me throughout the games and you know, when that happens, you feel inspired.
“My aim now is to qualify and compete at the world championships. I also want to continue playing in these major championships where I can also get a chance to earn 2024 Paris Paralympics qualifying points. I would like to thank all Zimbabweans for the support they afforded me in Uganda and I am happy to have represented them well.” Only Jongwe and Yemurai Ngoma, who participated in the standing low category, represented the country in this tournament, due to lack of financial resources.
The two went to Uganda on the international federation’s tickets which are guaranteed for each member association.
Para-Badminton Association of Zimbabwe board member marketing, Loveness Ncube, said the country has the potential to excel.
“Look, Jongwe is just starting and look at what she has already done,” said Ncube.
“We have a lot of good players but most of the time we fail to send them to tournaments because we lack the resources.”
Meanwhile, another badminton athlete, Thabani Mathe, is in Botswana where he will be participating in the Botswana international invitational tournament.
The 24-year-old is confident he will be equal to the task. The last time he was on the courts was in July 2018.