YOUTH Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, wants national associations to have a shift in focus and put more emphasis on quality over quantity when they register for major international competitions.
Coventry made the remarks after paying a courtesy call on members of Team Zimbabwe at the on-going IAAF World Athletics Championships here yesterday.
The Minister, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, is in Doha for a joint meeting between the IAAF and the IOC which was held on the sidelines of the global athletics show-piece at Khalifa International stadium.
Coventry met with National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara, coach Lismati Phakamile, and athletes — road runner Rutendo Nyahora and triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya — at their hotel. The men’s marathon trio of Munyaradzi Jari, Ngonidzashe Ncube and Isaac Mpofu, who had been training in Zimbabwe, are expected to arrive here today ahead of their race on Saturday.
Coventry said she was not particularly worried about the small size of the contingent which NAAZ sent here insisting she would, during her tenure in the government, emphasise that Zimbabwean associations focus more on producing quality than quantity.
“Something that I want us to focus on as Zimbabwe is to have a strategy where we just don’t bring hundreds of athletes but work on quality over quantity.
“I am going to ask the associations to be deliberate on the little money that we get and we have to be methodical about it.
“We need to have some research on how we are measuring up against the other countries,’’ Coventry said.
An Olympian gold medallist during her swimming career, Coventry knows the significance of the big stage and she also commended both Nyahora and Mapaya for having qualified for the World Championships.
“The facilities here in Doha are amazing, the people have been great, receptive and very welcoming for our athletes and I think with the Olympics coming next year it is a good opportunity competing with the other athletes, they can see where they are and measure themselves up.
“It is a huge experience. The conditions have been tough, the weather, especially the marathon runners, but I am very proud that we finished because nearly half the athletes couldn’t finish because of the heat and it shows the toughness of our athletes.
“I hope the guys that are coming in will also do the same’’.
Coventry said the staging of the Doha Championships ahead of the Olympics was timely for the Zimbabwe.
“World Championships before the Olympics is always about seeing where you are where the other guys and when you go back keep training and working harder’’. Herald