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Zimbabwe at the Olympics

Zimbabwe first competed at the Olympic Games under that name in 1980, although before that time they competed at the Games under the name Rhodesia in 1928, 1960 and 1964.

Rhodesia competed as a British territory. It was unable to take part in the 1968 Games in Mexico due to the Mexican government's interpretation of regulations on passports. Rhodesia turned up to the Games in 1972, however it was expelled by the IOC four days before the opening ceremony under threat of a boycott from other African countries.

No Rhodesian competitor ever won an Olympic medal, though there have been eight medals won by Zimbabwean athletes (3 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze) (up until 2016). Out of the 8 medals won, 7 came from its prolific swimmer Kirsty Coventry between 2004 and 2008, the remaining medal which also happens to be its first-ever medal at the Games was won by its women's national field hockey team in the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic Games.

Coventry attended and also represented Auburn University in Alabama, in the United States. At the 2004 edition of the Games which was held in Athens, she managed to win three Olympic medals (1 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze). She returned into the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and won four medals (1 gold and 3 silver). Her incredible feat made Paul Chingoka, who was then the head of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee, described her as "our national treasure". The then Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has dubbed her as "a golden girl," and granted her a whopping US$100,000 cash incentive for her lofty achievements in Beijing.

The women's national field hockey team was equally impressive as the team won the gold medal in a surprising fashion by outperforming Czechoslovakia and the mighty Soviet Union which placed second and third respectively.


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