JACQUES Leitao, the Zimbabwe Sevens rugby captain, headed back home with a Bowl-winners medal from the World Cup Sevens â€” and a fiancÃ©e.
The prop, who was born in the eastern border city of Mutare but now stays in Harare, scored the winning try in their final against Ireland last Saturday, then proposed to his girlfriend in front of 32 500 people midway through Zimbabweâ€™s lap of honour.
Victory laps can rarely have been as well merited. With the poor economic conditions in Zimbabwe, â€˜The Cheetahsâ€™ struggled to afford food in the lead-up to the tournament.
They won the final 17-14, with tries from the powerful Cleopas Makotose, the Zimbabweansâ€™ man-ofâ€“the-tournament Gerald Sibanda and Leitaoâ€™s late decider.
Danny Hondo, whose brother Dougie played Test cricket for Zimbabwe, says this achievement will earn him some much-needed family bragging rights.
â€œI hope this does (grant him some recognition) as every time I play I am always referred to as, â€˜Danny Hondo, brother of Dougie Hondoâ€™.
â€œOur preparations have actually been better than ever. Everything has been organised so much better than before.
â€œWe are so happy, hey! I canâ€™t describe how good it feels. We set ourselves a target of winning a medal, and we have done it. I am so happy for everyone who played in this tournament.â€
Liam Middleton, the victorious coach, added: â€œThe feeling is indescribable. In the tournament as a whole, but particularly the final, the pressure is huge, and I canâ€™t describe how it feels to win it.â€
Reaching the final of the consolation competition was deemed a minor success by the Irish, who have not played on the IRB Series for years and remain sevens novices.
The Ireland coach, Jon Skurr, said: â€œIn our eyes, we have achieved. From going from having no sevens experience to this represents achievement.â€ â€” IRB.