Shot-put star Zane Weir aims to go full circle in Italy
CAPE TOWN - You grow up in one country, but what if your family’s heritage pulls you towards another?
That is the situation shot-put star Zane Weir found himself in, and the heartstrings of his grandfather’s beloved Italy are calling.
The 25-year-old Weir, who was born and raised in Amanzimtoti and studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT), made a major breakthrough in his career on Tuesday in Potchefstroom when he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.
He produced a personal best of 21.11m – 1cm over the qualifying mark – to book his spot for the trip to Japan later this year. Unfortunately for South African fans, it won’t be in green and gold colours.
Weir told Independent Media yesterday that having listened to his now 88-year-old grandfather Mario’s sporting tales in Italy, he decided to put the process in motion to represent the European nation in 2019, after completing his degree in finance and accounting.
“The big thing is my grandfather’s history in Italy. He was a big sportsman. As a youngster, you always have such a unique relationship with your grandfather – especially being his only grandson,” Weir said.
“That sort of pride instilled in me has always been rich, and unfortunately as of late, he’s actually got quite bad Alzheimer’s … to the point of not even remembering me anymore.
“So, I just feel it’s such a beautiful sort of sentimental full circle, to be able to sort of honour that relationship through a sports career.
“When I went over to Italy to test the possibility of living over there, I could feel the full circle.
“So, the plan is definitely still to represent Italy, and we are actually awaiting judgment from World Athletics on that.”
The former Western Province athlete emphasised that his move was not due to any unhappiness in South Africa.
“It was such a difficult decision for me to make as I am passionate about South Africa. I am passionate about the injustices here and those sorts of things,” he said.
“We’ve got among the highest income inequality in the world, and I feel like we are in such a unique position to … We’ve got the best in the world and we’ve got the worst in the world.
“So, trying to bridge that gap is something I am extremely passionate about. Making the decision to switch federations was such a difficult one.
“The deciding factor for me was just the sentimentality, and specifically with the disease of my grandfather, that sort of just pushed me over the edge, and really gave me the internal burning passion to try and create this full-circle story.”
There is still doubt about whether the Tokyo Olympics will take place at all due to Covid-19, which already postponed the event by a year, so Weir will have to wait and see.
“The Olympics is a fantastic goal, but whether it goes ahead or not, for me, the real result is having achieved the (qualifying) standard through hard work,” he said.
Weir is set to return to action in Boksburg tomorrow, and aims to start his international season in April.