Thirty five years down the line, Zimbabwean sport is in disarray.
The women’s hockey team lit up what looked like a promising Zimbabwe’s entry into the international sport arena with a gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
What made this success sweeter was the fact that it came only three days after Zimbabwe had attained its independence on April 18.
The goalkeeper of the team, Sarah English, says the gold medal at the Olympics was the most memorable occasion in her life especially that coming in the days the country was celebrating its independence.
Veteran sports administrator Albert Nhamoyebonde reflects that everyone, Asians, blacks, coloureds, and whites were united as they celebrated what is probably one of the most remembered sporting successes in Zimbabwean history.
That was the perfect start that Zimbabwe needed as the country went on to achieve more notable early successes in other sporting disciplines including cricket and rugby.
At that time, Zimbabwe took over as Africa’s flag bearer in international rugby.
They represented the continent at the 1987 and 1991 World Cup finals while the cricket team was among the best in the world with such outstanding players such as Duncan Fletcher, Andy Pycroft, and Dave Houghton.
DAVIS CUP TENNIS
Not to be outdone was the Davis Cup tennis team that reached the quarter finals of the World Group while Zimbabwean boxers Langton Schoolboy Tinago, Proud Chinembiri and Stix McLoud were chartbusting with Africa and Commonwealth titles.
More to come was the fact that Zimbabwe also went on to create world champions in the form of golfer Nick Price in 1993 and diver Evan Stewart in 1994 while the late great Richard Tsimba created unforgettable waves at the 1991 rugby World Cup.
But that is now history as Zimbabwe has over the years fallen from grace with the tennis team now struggling to come out of the lower echelons of Euro-Africa Zone Group Two tennis.
That is not all. The cricket team, is now one of the weakest in the world with debate going on whether they should maintain their Test status. The Chevrons were one of the first teams to be eliminated from the 2015 World Cup after managing only one win in five games including a loss to associate side Ireland.
That is not the end of it. In boxing, Zimbabwe no longer has an African champion or even a regional Africa Zone Six title holder as Africa Boxing Union welterweight title holder Charles Manyuchi, fights in Zambia and even regards himself as Zambian than Zimbabwean.
NUMBER ONE SPORT
Worse still is the fact that in football, it has become a case of so near and yet so far, as the Warriors and local clubs have been receiving a battering on the international front.
The Warriors have not qualified for the past five editions of the Africa Cup of Nations finals while Zimbabwean clubs only dream of reaching the mini-league stage of both the Caf Champions League and the Caf Confederations.
Although the Young Warriors have qualified for the 2015 Africa Games to be held in Congo Brazzaville, their true pedigree is still to be tested as that can only come during the Games in September.
The only major success story is that of Kirsty Coventry, who won seven medals at two Olympic Games.
But with age catching up with her, where is Zimbabwe sport heading to as there seems to be nobody at hand capable of taking over with distinction.
As Zimbabwe marks 35 years of independence, Studio Seven looks at what has really gone wrong and what needs to be done to revive the good old days.
The chairman of the Zimbabwe National Soccer Coaches Association, Beki Nyoni, says Zimbabwe destroyed the rock on which their sporting success was built by abandoning the pre-independence sports development programme.
Nyoni says the new system that came into place at independence displaced knowledgeable people, and replaced them with those who had never been involved in sports management before.
But the president of the Zimbabwe Football Association Cuthbert is straight to the point. He says the Zimbabwean government has never had sport at heart.
Dube is of the opinion that since the day the country attained its independence, there was always the belief that sport was a luxury and not an industry.
This, he says, is the reason why the ministry of sport has never existed independently. He adds that if this attitude does not change, Zimbabwe will continue to be the fall guys of the international sporting world.
The deputy director general of the Sport and Recreation Commission Joseph Muchechetere admits that they have not been fully supporting sport.
Muchechetere says there is no development plan in place as there is no money to bankroll that national sports plan.
The SRC supremo does not see success coming under such an environment.
ZIMBABWE OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
The Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, Anna Mguni, also adds her weight to the debate.
She is of the opinion that the reason why Zimbabwean teams have been receiving a battering is that they are going into battle ill prepared.
This, she says, is because there has not been a budget from the government to back their preparations.
On their own, she says, the athletes have failed to prosper.
Sports analyst Farai Kambamura says people leading sport have been a disappointment, adding that the corporate world too should have chipped in.
He says the government should only come in to compliment what is already there. Kambaruma believes that administrators and the corporate should chart the way forward.
As the nation steps into the next day, Nyoni says the solution to Zimbabwe’s sport crisis lies in everyone getting together.
He says the government, administrators and sportsperson should come together and craft a sound sports policy.
But the question is : Will Zimbabwean sport ever get back to the good old days?
Only time will tell.