THE Zimbabwe wheelchair racing team, which will take part in the Quteniqua Wheelchair Challenge in George, South Africa, this coming weekend, yesterday got a timely morale-booster ahead of this event when they received a racing kit and tracksuits from Supa Lotto at a send-off ceremony hosted by Nando's in Avondale.
The team is made up of captain Edmund Makutya, Elford Moyo, Wilson Nyakoko, Samson Muroyiwa, Magdalene Madzivire, Dorcas Hwatira, Margaret Bangajena, Thandiwe Ndlovu and Moline Majoni.
They are scheduled to leave for South Africa this morning accompanied by their team manager, Christopher Katore.
Last year local athletes managed to win seven medals, including four golds, and will be hoping to do well in this year's edition of the Quteniqua Wheelchair Challenge.
Speaking at the send-off ceremony, Supa Lotto marketing executive Kudakwashe Muchenje said they are happy to be associated with a winning team.
"This is a winning team, they have won up to 15 medals since they started participating in the event, taking gold and silver medals mostly.
"However, sponsorship has been their major setback and as Supa Lotto we came in to sponsor them with a kit they are going to use.
"We are happy to be associated with this team.
"We thought as a way of giving back to the community, we should sponsor the team and we could not be more proud to be associated with such a team.
"This is a team worth identifying with," said Muchenje.
Musekiwa Kumbula, the Innscor Group Corporate Affairs Executive, also attended yesterday's function where he represented Nando's, who hosted the send-off ceremony for the Zimbabwean athletes at their Avondale Branch in Harare.
The Zimbabwe team captain Makutya said they know what to expect and they were raring to go.
"We have five females and four males (in our team) and we expect nothing short of gold.
"This is not the first time to be there, we have been there before and we know what we are going to face.
"It's a national event and we are going to work as a team.
"We want to raise the country's flag high," said Makutya.
The veteran wheelchair racing athlete said the coming in of various sponsors to assist the team is a major breakthrough for people living with disability as they have over the years struggled in terms of resources.
"Last year one of our athletes failed to finish the race because she had some problems with her tyres and those are the things that set us back but if we get sponsors, we don't get such problems.
"Sport for people with disability has been looked down upon in the past years and I think this is a breakthrough for us," said Makutya.
Magdalene Madzivire, the defending champion in the women's category, said she is hoping to retain her title.
"I want to thank the sponsors Supa Lotto for making this a success.
"I won a gold medal last year and I want to defend my title.
"I have been training since last year in November up to now and I am ready for the race.
"If I don't get problems with my wheelchair, I think will make it," said Magdalene Madzivire.
The Quteniqua wheelchair Challenge was introduced in 2002 and attracts athletes with physical disabilities from across the globe.
Last year more than 1 000 athletes took part in the race.