Daniella du Toit and Kyle Hinde have made the country proud after becoming the first Zimbabwean athletes to qualify for the second edition of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) to be held in Nanjing, China, in August. This is the second edition of the YOG and it will run from 16–28 August.
Du Toit and Hinde will compete in the women’s single sculls and the men’s single sculls respectively after an impressive performance at the African Youth Olympic Games Qualification Regatta held in Tunisia in November.
Hinde, who is a lower six student at St Johns College, expressed his delight at qualifying for the Games although he admitted that it came as a surprise. “The feeling was amazing,” Hinde said in an interview with Harare News. “I was not expecting to qualify before leaving for Tunisia but afterwards I was filled with a great sense of accomplishment, national pride and honour throughout the whole experience.”
“I would like to publicly thank the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee who sponsored the accommodation and plane tickets for us to compete in Tunisia, the Rowing Association of Zimbabwe president, Miles Trustham, without who’s support it would not have been possible, our coach Rachel Davis and everyone else who made the tour possible and so successful.”
Hinde said that he and Du Toit were set to take part in a number of competitions before the Youth Olympics. “Daniella and I will try to spend as much time as possible on the water training and perfecting our strokes as well at the gym. We will be participating in the South African Schools Championships at the beginning of March.
“We are also hoping to compete in regattas in Italy during the April school holidays as well as the World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany in August just prior to the Youth Olympic Games. We will also be racing in many local regattas leading up to the games.
Du Toit (17), a student at Chisipite Senior School says qualification for the Youth Olympic Games came as a timely reward as she had worked hard for the past three years towards attaining that goal. She said her goal is to maintain her status as Zimbabwe’s leading junior rower.
“Having worked very hard towards qualifying for Youth Olympics for the last three years, I was extremely excited. My next goal is to ensure that I remain the top junior woman rower in Zimbabwe,” said Du Toit, who is inspired by Olympic rower Micheen Thornicroft. Thornicroft competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Held on Lake Tunis in Tunisia, the qualification regatta for the Youth Olympic Games concluded with hosts earning YOG spots in the men’s single sculls, women’s single sculls and women’s pair.
Egypt earned spots in the men’s pair, men’s single sculls and women’s single sculls. Zimbabwe qualified in the men’s single sculls and women’s single sculls. This is the first time that continental qualification regattas have been held for the Youth Olympic Games. The regatta attracted 17 nations including Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The Youth Olympic Games is an initiative of the International Olympic Committee based around five main themes: Olympism, Social Responsibility, Skills Development, Expression and Well-being and Healthy Lifestyles. It aims to bring together talented young athletes aged 15 to 18 from around the world. There are 26 events in the Games altogether, rowing being one of them, with participants competing over 1,000m in the men’s and women’s pair and men’s and women’s single sculls.