The Rowing Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) has hailed a three-member young Zimbabwe girls team that led the country to an overall fourth place finish out of 20 nations at the African Rowing Championships at Tunis Lake in Tunisia last week.
Erin Soper and Tarryn Hinde, both from Chisipite Senior School, as well as Peterhouse's Holly Bicknell, all aged 15, are the three girls who represented Zimbabwe in Tunisia under the tutelage of two-time Olympian Micheen Thornycroft.
Earlier in the week, Zimbabwe had finished fifth on the medals table in the Tunis Lake International Regatta -- 500 metre sprint at the same venue.
Bicknell won silver in the Junior Woman's single scull while Soper and Hinde won bronze in the Junior Woman's double scull.
The girls were again on the medals in the main event; the African Championships raced over 2 000m, Bicknell scooping silver in the Junior Woman's single scull and placing fourth in the seniors' single scull race.
Soper and Hinde claimed a bronze in the Lightweight Women's double scull, finishing fourth in the Junior Woman's double scull.
"RAZ is delighted with the performance of the three young athletes who were selected to attend the recent Fisa [International Rowing Federation] training camp and thereafter competed at the Tunis Lake International Regatta and the African Rowing Championships," RAZ president Andrew Lorimer told The Sports Hub.
"Our athletes did us proud and distinguished themselves well in Tunisia. We could have done even better on the medals table if we had been able to send a bigger contingent of rowers. However, RAZ was hampered in this respect because of the high costs involved in sending rowers to Tunisia. The timing of the African Championships was not favourable because a number of our top rowers writing O, AS, A level and university exams," he added.
Zimbabwe came behind winners Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco on the medals table in the championship.
This year's African Championships was one of the biggest ever with 20 African countries sending rowers to compete.
RAZ also expressed gratitude to the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee and Fisa for assistance in sending two of the Zimbabwean rowers and a coach, Thornycroft, to Tunisia.
The rowing association is already focusing on next year's edition which will be held in Algeria midyear and will act as a qualifier for the 2018 Youth Olympics set for Argentina next October.
"We are already preparing to send a much larger contingent of Zimbabwean rowers to Algeria next year, finances permitting.
Hopefully the dates will not clash with school or university exams. The championships will be used as qualifiers for the 2018 Youth Olympics set for Buenos Aires, Argentina," Lorimer said.