ROWING Association of Zimbabwe vice president Sally Soper says they are pleased one of their athletes has secured a spot in the men’s singles at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Peter Purcell-Gilpin shone at the just-ended African Olympic Qualification Regatta in Tunisia.
Zimbabwe had Purcell-Gilpin competing in the men’s single sculls where he won silver, ensuring the country will have a boat at next year’s Olympics.
Lieben Dickens finished third in the women’s single sculls to pick bronze.
The athletes have been working under the guidance of coach Felix Dieu and they both attended a five-day training camp run by the World Rowing Federation prior to the Regatta.
The Zimbabwe Olympic also supported the athletes for the event held from October 9 to 12.
Soper said they were excited by the athletes’ achievements in Tunisia and the qualification to the Olympics in the men’s single event.
“The Rowing Association of Zimbabwe is very excited with the performances of Peter Purcell-Gilpin, who won the silver medal in the men’s single event, and Lieben Dickens, who won the bronze medal in the women’s single event at the recent African Olympic Qualification Regatta,’’ Soper said.
“The athletes have trained hard under the guidance of coach Felix Dieu and competed around the world in order to get the racing experience needed for this level of competition.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the sport of rowing in Zimbabwe. It is a sport RAZ would like to see grow and we encourage more and more schools to get involved.”
Qualification for next year’s Games began in August at the World Championships and athletes who failed to qualify their countries were given a second chance to compete at the just-ended continental qualifiers.
According to FISA rules, if two boats from a National Olympic Committee meet the qualification criteria at Continental Qualification Regatta, then it’s the highest-ranking boat that qualifies.
“The rules set out by FISA stipulate that should a nation not qualify at the World Championships then only one, which is the highest-ranking boat, from a nation can qualify at a Continental Regatta.
“This is the reason why Lieben Dickens was, unfortunately, not awarded a position for Zimbabwe in the women’s single event at this stage in the qualifying regattas,” added Soper. Zimbabwe have been represented in rowing in the last three editions of the Olympics and they are guaranteed of representation next year.
“It takes several years of dedication, sacrifice and hard training to achieve the level of rowing needed for the world stage and this starts with supporting athletes at club/school level.
“The Rowing Association of Zimbabwe strives to expose its athletes to as many competitions as possible at local, regional and international levels as we believe this is the investment required to achieve consistent results at world events.
“Sponsorship is, therefore, crucial in maintaining and improving rowing standards in Zimbabwe,” Soper said.
Purcell-Gilpin is now competing in the African Rowing Championships running until tomorrow in Tunisia.
And Soper said they are confident of another medal for Zimbabwe.