The EOCGA administration office hosted a number of special guests and local press for a send-off event in honour of Eswatini’s scholarship athletes that are set to travel to Europe on the 1st of July.
The athletes will be participating in a European training and competition camp that will run until the 15th of August. The purpose of the trip is for the athletes to prepare and attempt to qualify for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world championships. This year, the world championships are hosted in Qatar from the 28th September – 6th October. Qualification to this event would be a major step towards the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
Andile Lusenga – Personal Bests: 200m / 20.97 – 400m / 46.36
Lusenga is the Eswatini national record holder in the 400m. He has already qualified to compete at the All-Africa Games in Morocco in August. At 22 years old, he is the youngest of the group heading to Europe.
Phumlile Ndzinisa – Personal Bests: 100m / 11.35 – 200m / 23.47
The 27-year-old Ndzinisa is the sole female representative attending the training camp on behalf of Eswatini. She earned gold in the 100m and 200m at the Athletics Association of Eswatini National Championships back in May.
Sibusiso Matsenjwa – Personal Bests: 100m / 10.22 – 200m / 20.48
Matsenjwa was the flag bearer for Eswatini at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics. The 31-year-old earned gold in the 100m and 200m at the Athletics Association of Eswatini National Championships back in May. He has already qualified to compete at the All-Africa Games in Morocco in August.
Thandaza Zwane – Personal Bests: 200m / 20.81 – 400m / 46.56
The 26-year-old Zwane earned gold in the 400m at the Eswatini National Championships back in May. He has already qualified to compete at the All-Africa Games in Morocco in August.
Each athlete along with EOCGA CEO, Sidney Simelane took time to make statements and answer questions from the media. In addition, Athletics coach Muzi Mabuza made his own statements in advance of sending his athletes off. Mabuza mentioned that Eswatini has previously sent athletes to similar training camps as individuals but that this is the first time they have had the opportunity to send a quality team of athletes. He expressed how important this progress is not only in helping the athletes feel more comfortable and prepared to compete on this larger platform but that this provides increased exposure to Eswatini’s athletics program on the world stage.
125th Anniversary of the IOC
The gathering also served as a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was first created in 1894. The attendees were treated to cake and refreshments to celebrate the milestone.
The IOC’s official celebration of the anniversary was held in Lausanne, Switzerland on the 23rd of June. However, this wasn’t the only celebration on the day, as the IOC held a grand opening ceremony for the brand-new “Olympic House” headquarters facility as part of the historic festivities.