He may be fairly new to the game but his dreams are huge – a Rio 2016 Games medal for power-lifting and bodybuilding.
“I have been interested in physical exercise since childhood but due to my disability but I was only training in my backyard,” said the bubbly Tinashe Mutero, during the 2014 Paralympics’ Day in the satellite town of Chitungwiza just before Christmas.
“It was a dream come true for me after a chance meeting on Facebook with an Australian guy in 2013 who ended up passing through Harare on a world tour!” he added. “I started communicating with Mike Rohpy (the Australian) on Facebook and I learnt that he was travelling around the world and so I invited him to pass through Zimbabwe and he agreed,” says the tough-talking 19-year-old from the Engineering section of the hard and rough neighbourhood ghetto of Highfield. “We met at the Harare International Conference Centre and had a long chat about disability and sport,” Mutero explained, adding, “After the discussion, I was inspired and decided to take my physical exercise to a higher level.”
He joined a proper gym club at the Raylton Sports Club in town where he took on a disciplined training programme. “Fortunately, the owner Nicol Muteiwa, has a policy allowing all those with a disability to train free of charge. I was also assisted in entering competitions. One thing led to another and I entered an exhibition at Danhiko Paralympics Games last year and came third! It was a thrill and only served to inspire me more,” he confessed excitedly. “I then knew I was on my way to greater things!” he declares. Two years on he celebrated winning bronze in front of hundreds of people at Ochi City Musclemania just outside the capital!
Mutero, born with no physical disability, developed loss of muscle growth on both legs, a condition that necessitated “tendon operations on both legs, but unfortunately the operations were not 100 percent successful and it all ended up with me moving around with the assistance of crutches”. He says he has no bitterness and thinks he has been fortunate not to incur or be plagued by injuries throughout his short sporting career after getting serious in the gym, a fact he attributes to gym owner Muteiwa. “Working with Nicol has been instrumental in my success so far and I appreciate the advice,” he says. “Now my target is to win the Olympics – the Paralympics in Rio 2016. That is my dream and I am getting close to that although I know it won’t come easily, but I will try my best,” he said.
The athlete, who spends most mornings involved in theatre and drama with a local arts group at the suburb’s iconic venue, Cyril Jennings Hall, told this publication that his target was to win the Games’ ultimate prize in his category in Brazil. “Most of our equipment is quite expensive, even such things as wheel chairs,” he said, adding: “They need to be imported and most people with disabilities do not have the cash.”
But he won’t let that be a barrier in moving towards his objective adding that he had to keep working hard so as to claim a place in the team to the Games because the national team selectors do not consider past glory, but current form to select the athletes. “I want to win as many major medals locally as I possibly can. I am coming into my prime and the next 10 years will be a big time for me,” he declares, smiling.