British energy supplier PE sponsoring Zimbabwean rower’s Olympic dream

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One of the UK’s largest independent energy supplier, PE, is sponsoring Zimbabwean rower Steven Cox’s bid to represent the Southern African nation at next month’s Olympic Games in Paris, as part of their efforts to boost the development of sport within the British Army.

The England-based oarsman, who is a lance corporal in the British army secured an Olympic quota for Zimbabwe in the men’s single sculls at the 2023 World Rowing African Olympic qualification regatta in Tunisia in December.

PE will aid in Cox’s training, equipment, coaching, and participation in prominent World Cup races before the Olympics which will be held from July 26 to August 11.

Over this year-long partnership, PE will support various events, creating growth avenues in the Army community.

The standout aspect of this collaboration is PE’s backing of the Army Rugby Union, aimed at fostering Rugby Union within the Army and local communities in the UK.

Steve Daniels, group CSO at PE, said: “As my brother was a serving member, the Army holds a special place in our hearts, and so we are incredibly proud and indeed honoured to be able to sponsor multiple sporting disciplines within Army Sport.

“At PE, we have a long heritage of championing sports, so it is gratifying to bring a personal touch to supporting Army Sport, from grassroots to the Olympic stage.”

British Army Maj Gen (Retd) Darrell Amison CBE, CEO Army Sport, said: “I’m delighted to welcome PE as a Gold sponsor of Army Sport. PE’s sponsorship will fuel sporting opportunities for our soldiers, not least Cpl Steve Cox who has been selected to represent Zimbabwe in rowing at this summer’s Paris Olympics. Whether played at grassroots or representative level, sport matters to our Army.

“It prepares soldiers – our competitive edge – for operations by enhancing physical fitness, mental resilience, leadership, and teamwork. I very much look forward to working with the PE team and, once again, thank them for their support of Army Sport – it’s greatly appreciated.”

Cox will become only the sixth rower to represent Zimbabwe at the Olympic Games in rowing.

In fact it will be second time lucky for the British Army rower after he missed out on qualification for Tokyo 2020 (in 2021).

Four years ago Cox and Peter Purcell-Gilpin tried to qualify for Tokyo in the men’s double sculls boat but fell short in their attempt. In a cruel twist of fate, the duo had to battle it out for a spot in the single sculls with Purcell-Gilpin earning the ticket in a race-off.

Zimbabwe made their first appearance in rowing at the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992 with Susanne Standish-White and Margaret Gibson breaking new ground for the sport in the country in the coxless pairs.

Sixteen years had passed before Zimbabwe would again feature in the rowing regatta at the Olympics in Beijing 2008 where Elana Hill finished 25th in the single sculls.

Four years later in London, James Fraser-McKenzie became Zimbabwe’s first male Olympic rower in the single sculls with Micheen Thornycroft also representing the country in the women’s competition.

Thornycroft also made the team for Rio 2016 where she finished in a creditable 11th place.

Cox looks to follow in the footsteps of Thornycroft as he hopes to, at the very least, reach the A/B finals which could set up a potential fight for a spot in the final.

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