“On the 28th of December 2019, I was involved in an accident that almost took my life. I sustained a leg injury that saw me spending 69 days in hospital.
“Those who know me are aware of my passion for sports.
“I remember Sheldene Chant sending me a message and advised me to consider writing more articles about horse racing in Zimbabwe. After that long hospital stay, I was discharged in March. Then, after two weeks, lockdown restrictions were introduced in Zimbabwe.
“Weeks later horse racing received the green light to resume. I remember how Sheldene broke the news to me, “Tatenda, racing is back my dear. But no fans allowed – we have to be content with live streaming the races.”
“With twin scourges of a leg that was healing and COVID-19, I felt as if that was enough. But then I remembered Sheldene’s voice, full of excitement, telling me horse racing was back. The racing ‘analyst’ seemed to have even analysed my mind. I remember tapping on a Facebook notification stating, ‘Borrowdale Racecourse is LIVE’.
“After 69 days in hospital the first sport code I watched was horse racing. Just watching the first race was a beautiful experience that resonated throughout my whole body. Giving me hope that everything would be alright. This kind of hope I will hold in my heart forever.
“But what exactly gave me this kind of hope you would ask? After 79 days off racing the filly, Dindingwe, very nearly won the Jacaranda Tote Free Handicap, finishing 0.10 lengths behind her stable companion True Beauty. There I was comparing 79, and 69 plus days.
“Why compare a horse and a human you might ask? The answer is a human being and a horse share a special connection.
“After such a long layoff Dindingwe still lived in the moment. This taught me to embrace the present. Being in the present helped me cope with the pain, thus reducing distress.
“Before the race began Dindingwe was quite hard to get into the stalls, and shortly after the start she was bumped by another runner. As a champion she never surrendered, but because of acceptance, managed to race, and almost won, being beaten only 0.10 lengths by True Beauty. The lesson I learnt from Dindingwe is that acceptance is an essential part of life relationships, and the recovery process.
“I have found a new sense of self confidence and self-worth and this has helped me to be more responsible, and to take care of myself. I am grateful for the supportive network, particularly from my parents, Sheldene, and my siblings.
“They say the journey to recovery is very long, and painful, and I am battling with a relapse, indescribable pain, and feeling that this is the order of the day.
“There are no quick solutions, no easy answers, you just breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain gets you where you least expect it. It hits you below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain creates misery and gives you sorrow, and sometimes can even trouble you.
“But watching horses has been, and is, a great therapy. As we wait for the next race meeting, here’s to a speedy recovery for me.”
(Tatenda Gondo is an established sports reporter, also known as Sports Fanatic. Unfortunately, her introduction to racing has been plagued by ill health and racing behind closed doors, so she has been unable to meet many racing people – or explore the course. Notwithstanding those difficulties she has been pressing on regardless.)
ABOVE: True Beauty (nearest camera) and Dindingwe in the Jacaranda Tote Free Handicap. Photograph by Jenny Stock.
BELOW: Dindingwe won the Breeders Fillies Mile (L). Photograph by Gavin MacLeod.