Zimbabwe’s greatest sports stars of all time top 10 list:
Top 10 in numbers
Elliot Mujaji made a mark on the Zimbabwe athletics arena after scooping two gold medals at the Paralympic games. Mujaji became the country’s first ever Paralympian to scoop a gold medal after claiming pole position in the 100 metres final at the Paralympics held in Sydney in the year 2000.
Mujaji would prove his victory in Sydney was no fluke after powering to yet another 100 metre gold medal at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. As a result of such feats Mujaji is among the countries most decorated athletes.
9. Stephen Muzhingi
Born on 17 October 1980 Stephen Muzhingi kick started his career as a long distance runner when he competed at the Comrades marathon in 2008. Despite finishing third Muzhingi would return in 2009 as the Comrades winner.
Muzhingi then personalised the Comrades Marathon by winning the grand event in 2010 and 2011 to become the first person to win such an event on three consecutive occassions earning him the nicknames “King of the Comrades”. In 2012 he became the second man only to hold the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon and the Comrades Marathon titles simultaneously. He holds numerous other records for long distance running making him one of the greatest Zimbabwean sports persons of all time.
8. Richard Tsimba
Richard Tsimba is Zimbabwe’s first black player to represent the country at international level. Known as the “Black Diamond” Richard was part of the Zimbabwean squad to participate at the 1987 world cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Tsimba who was also the only black player in the whole tournament dazzled resulting in his efforts being captured am 10 great world cup moments by skysport.co.nz,”It was the second day of the Rugby World cup and Zimbabwe were playing Romania. South Africa was absent due to its apartheid policies, but black African centre Richard Tsimba received the ball at speed before cutting back and racing through to dive beneath the crossbar for a dazzling try. It was the first great “international” moment in the Rugby World Cup and showed New Zealand that the event was about more than just the All Blacks”.
Tsimba went on to win more test caps after the world cup, including at the inaugural All-Africa Rugby Cup in 1989 when he and Mark Neill each scored five tries in the thumping of Nigeria.
“The Black Diamond” would make his last world cup appearance at the 1991 world cup where he scored a superb try against Japan in his game for the Sables. Tsimba’s life came to a tragic end after he was involved in a car crash in 2000.
Tsimba had gained respect in the rugby circles and became the first black man to be inducted into the International Rugby Board (IRB) Hall of Fame
7. Langton Tinago
Described as a rare prize fighter Langton Tinago defied all odds by winning a record three commonwealth titles. Winning two light weight crowns and a super featherweight title earned Tinago wide recognition including a place in the Guinness Book of world records.
At independence Tinago won his first club title after overcoming Nigeria’s Hagan Jimoh in his own backyard in Lagos before scooping the super featherweight title in 1983 following a unanimous points decision in his fight against another Nigerian Safiu Oke Badan at the City sports centre in Harare.
Gazi as Tinago was popularly known then conquered at the commonwealth games where he beat Australia’s Graeme Brooke in Manchester in 1986 to become the lightweight commonwealth champion. Recognized as the boxer of the century by the Sports and Recreation Commission Tinago was a pride to the nation.
In an interview held by the herald Tinago said had it not been for the colonial era he may have achieved more,” I started boxing in 1967 and back then I was a teenager. In 1987 I defeated Herald Vabrect who was the world number seven at Rufaro stadium and the following year I beat Nkosana Happyboy in East London in South Africa”, he said.
6. Samson Muripo
The country may underrate his achievements but Sensei Samson Muripo comes in at number seven in Zimsportsnews.com top 10 list of Zimbabwe’s greatest athletes of all time. The soft spoken karateka in 2009 made the headlines after becoming Africa’s first ever World Karate champion after winning gold at the 1st World Cup Open karate tournament held in Osaka Japan. In his road to claiming gold Muripo defeated Spanish, Kazakhstan, German, Australian and Japanese champions in the Men’s Middle Weight Category. At the same event Zimbabwe’s former world champion won the best Technical Prize of the 1st World Cup Open Karate Tournament.
The country’s greatest karateka of all time then won a silver medal at the Higashi Nippon International Kyokushin Karate-do Senshukentaikai Open Weight Tournament in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, in April 2010. In 2011 Muripo scooped silver in the Middleweight category at the 2nd World Cup Open Kyokushinkai Karate Tournament staged in Astana, Kazakhstan, in July 2011.In Kazhakistan Muripo was poisoned but all the same managed to recover and powered to second place. In Kazhakistan Muripo scooped the Fighting Spirit Award.
Zimbabwe’s top karateka then won another Silver Medal in the Men’s Open of the 5th Len Barnes Memorial International Karate Tournament held in June 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. At another tournament staged in South Africa in 2008 Muripo won Gold at the Ashihara International Full Contact Karate Open Championships in Cape Tow. At the 3rd Kyokushin World cup staged at the Toyama City in Japan Muripo managed to reach the last 16.