The purpose of the Zimbabwe Sports Hall of Fame is to honour yesteryear athletes and officials who would have represented the country exceptionally well in sports. In order for one to be inducted into the Zimbabwe Sports Hall of Fame they must have retired from active sports for at least three years and should not have been charged with offenses relating to doping or any other offense that puts the name of the country into disrepute. The inductees can be honoured posthumously.
Prior to 2015, ten former sports great personalities that were inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 included the following:
-George Shaya - Football
-Ladies Hockey Team - 1980
-Artwell Mandaza - Athletics
-David Westerhout - Shooting
-Dave Houghton - Cricket
-Evan Stewart - Diving
-Florence Kennedy - Bowling
-Dennis Watson - Golf
-Collin Harvey - Golf
-Ian Robertson - Rugby
After 10 years of waiting, the Sports and Recreation Commission(SRC), has finally inducted five more people into the sports Hall of Fame.
It has been a long wait since the first 10 inductions were done in 2005. Although no explanation has been given for the delay, it is heartening that the SRC has at least managed to induct five more great sportspersons, even as more were expected because of the 10-year lapse.
The five new inductees are
-The Late Footballer Freddy Mkwesha
-Athlete - Benard Dzoma
-Tennis ace - Patricia Molly Pretorius
-Squash player - Gay Allison Erskine
-Swimmer - John Keyter
We met up again with Hall of Fame inductee swimmer John Keyter at the Bulawayo City Pool this weekend where the Zimbabwe Senior National Aquatic Championships took place.
John was the Guest of Honor at the championships, having been recognised for his achievements in 1968 as sportsman of the year, and again in 2015 when he was inducted into the Zimbabwe Hall of Fame.
John is an old school friend of HeeHoo's they were both at Oriole School in the sixties so much reminiscing and revelry took place when they were reunited!
John still swims, he swam the Midmar Mile in the discipline of Butterfly not so long ago !
Lorna Riley linked them up after many years apart - Lorna is the Chairlady of the Zimbabwe Swimming Board of Control, and a most energetic lady!!
John grew up in Zimbabwe and matured in an age when the political scene was at its worst, the Prime Minister had declared UDI, sanctions had been imposed and sporting teams were prohibited from competing on the world stage.
Not easy for a talented sportsman who was on the team for the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968. There seemed little point in him continuing his training but a young South African who was high in the world rankings came back to South Africa inspiring John to concentrate his efforts for a duel in the pool in Cape town at the 1969 edition of the South African Championships.
At the tender age of 19, John took on Vernon Slovin in the 220 yds Butterfly finishing a mere 0.3 secs ahead of the South African. We have seen this time and time again in recent years in races between Michael Phelps and others and I have no doubt that Chad Le Clos has learned his tight finish technique from our John! The following evening, John again beat Vernon but this time by 0.8 of a second winning with a time of 59.2.
Not long afterwards, the silver medallist at the 1968 Games, Martyn Woodroffe was in South Africa for the South African Games held in Bloemfontein. So it became the battle of year when the 3 fly swimmers entered the water. The result was all 3 swimmers in with 0.4 of a second for the 100m, but John emerged with the gold. These achievements earned John the Sportsman of the year award and at the time he said
'I am tremendously proud to have been honoured, all the things I missed in the past - and will miss in the future, don't seem to matter anymore'
John was coached by our Zimbabwean legend Frank Parrington, and in fact the World famous coach Don Councilman (who has written many many books on coaching) once wrote to Frank saying
'I am very interested in John Keyter and the possibility of his attending Indiana University next year when he graduates. I have been following his progress and I think he is one of the most outstanding young butterfly swimmers in the world'
However, John had by now achieved all he was able to achieve and he was tired of swimming 350km per week and with that he retired.
John was presented with his Hall of Fame award at City Pool this weekend, where his Butterfly record was broken by a youngster called Liam O'Hara (Falcon College) who broke Brendan Beaumont's 200 Butterfly record set in December 1975. Brendon it appears broke John Keyter's record set in 1968/69.
There is a wealth of information on the history of swimming in this country if one googles it. I even found my own name as obtaining a Bronze Life Saving Certificate at Eveline High School back in the dark ages!!