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Deyse Nhaquile during the competition in Algiers, 2019, [Photo: DW]
Mozambique is one of five African countries qualifying to compete in sailing competitions at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Three Mozambican athletes will represent the country in the 470 and Laser Radial classes in the July and August competitions.
Deyse Nhaquile, Denise Parruque and Maria Machava, sailors of 19, 17 and 15 years of age, respectively, are among the athletes qualifying for the Olympic Games in Japan.
Deyse Nhaquile has most years of competition and the greatest number of gold medals on the continent. In 2012, she won a gold medal in the Optimist class in Tanzania, and then again in South Africa in 2013, in Morocco in 2014, in Algeria in 2015 and in Mozambique in 2016.
In October 2019, Deyse Nhaquile became the first Mozambican yachtswoman to qualify for the Olympic Games, winning the African Championship in the Laser Radial class in Algiers, the capital of Algeria.
“I wanted first place at any cost. On the last day I managed to qualify for the Olympic Games and get my title back. I was crowned African six-time champion and qualified for the Olympic Games, which made me very happy. It is the best feeling of my life, because it was a dream come true,” she said at the time.
For the Mozambican Federation of Sailing and Canoeing, it is a matter of pride to have formed a six-time champion in a sport with far fewer years’ existence in the country than many other modalities.
A dream come true
“This is Deisy Nhaquile’s sixth African title. In 2019, our canoeists were participating in the African games, where we won a gold medal in C2 200 metres and a silver medal in C1 in 200 metres too. Mozambique had not won a gold medal for about 12 years in the African Games” federation president Hélio da Rosa Alberto says.
In addition to Deyse, Mozambican duo Denise Parruque and Maria Machava, who sail as a team in the 470 class, also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
For them, sailing started at the age of seven to nine, training in yachting, a sport that uses the force of the wind to move the vessels. Mozambique and Angola are the only African countries among the 16 qualifying, world-wide.
“We were training for this. We put together what we had learned – our strengths, effort, and dedication – and managed to qualify,” Denise said.
Maria Machava says that “[this] is the dream of almost all athletes”, and the news moved her mother to tears.
For the radial laser class, Deyse joins athletes from Seychelles and Egypt in Africa, also among the 22 qualifying world-wide.
Olympic athletes come from humble families
The Mozambican Sailing and Canoeing Federation emerged in 2009 as a result of Mozambique hosting the 10th African Games of 2010, and the country had to create the body to hold sailing and canoeing competitions.
The Federation manages a social inclusion programme, mobilising children from suburban neighbourhoods for training in modalities such as sailing and canoeing, often considered ‘elite’ sports. This programme fostered the three Mozambican athletes who qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Deyse attends the second year of the Sports Science course at Eduardo Mondlane University, while Denise and Maria attend secondary school. For the clubs where the athletes train, academic performance is just as important as sporting prowess.Source: Deutsche Welle
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