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Zim badminton star remains hopeful of Olympic qualification

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By Sports Reporter


ZIMBABWE’s number one badminton player Thabani Mathe still hopes to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics following a decent performance at the just-ended tournament in Iran.

Mathe was eliminated in the third round of the tournament which had more than 100 badminton players from across the globe.

Although his early exit limits his chance of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, he remains hopeful.

“Olympic qualification is still a very steep hill to climb but I am still climbing it.

“A round of 64 exit is not good enough to better my chances at qualifying but seeing how I performed after months and months of inactivity, just working on my craft in Sichuan China, only the best is yet to come,” Mathe told New Zimbabwe.com.

Mathe is currently ranked 431 out of 2000 players in the world, the best by any Zimbabwean in history.

At the present moment, Zimbabwe only has two athletes who have qualified for the Olympics: long-distance runner Isaac Mpofu and rower Stephen Cox.

The 26-year-old is now in Azerbaijan where he is set to compete with high-profile badminton players in a bid to improve his rankings.

The Azerbaijan tournament will run from the 8th to the 11th of February.

“I’m starting in the qualifying stages, so if all goes well I’m scheduled to play a total of 3 matches before I jump into the Main Draw.

“I’m in these qualifying rounds with the top seed in Africa as well, so it’s not going to be an easy feat,” he said.

Mathe, however, is worried about the lack of support for the sport in Zimbabwe.

He revealed that he is using his resources to fund his trips.

He added, “To be honest, it’s individuals like myself steering the wheel of the sport in terms of global participation.

“Without the amazing contributions of my sponsors, PG Industries Zimbabwe, I don’t know where I would be.