Zambian athletes jet into London for 2012 Olympics
While other countries are sending hundreds of athletes, Zambia will be represented by one of the smallest contingents of only seven medal hopefuls.
Australia-based swimmer, Zane Jordan was the first local athlete to arrive in London yesterday some 24 hours before the rest of the Zambian crew reached the luxurious Olympic Games Village.
National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) vice-president, Gabriel Muyinda, who is Zambia’s delegation leader, is already in London and was yesterday inspecting the facilities at the Games Village to ensure the athletes and officials got some of the best accommodation apartments with all necessary paraphernalia.
And NOCZ believes the training programme in Scotland has helped in making the athletes ready for battle.
NOCZ secretary general, Hazel Kennedy said the Scotland camp was essential as it assisted the athletes to be mentally and physically prepared for the London Games.
Kennedy said the final tune-up ensured the athletes were in good health and also fit to compete with other competitors from other participating countries.
She said the athletes were in high spirits and looking forward to the start of the Games of the 30th Olympiad.
Despite Zambia fielding a small contingent, Kennedy said it was comforting that the nation was sending a team of mostly athletes who qualified to the London Games unlike in the past when a bulk of wild card entries were sent at the Olympics.
Kennedy said Zambia was taking some of the good athletes to the Games like short distance runner, Gerald Phiri, who has competed before against world champion Usain Bolt, and was heading to London with a good personal best time.
Runners, Prince Mumba and Phiri booked tickets to London after going through a gruelling qualifying process.
Lightwelterweight boxer, Gilbert Choombe and judoka, Boas Munyonga also qualified to the Olympics while women’s 600-metre runner, Chaoness Choosha and swimmers, Jordan and Jade Howard are going to London as wild cards.
The London 2012 Olympics will start on Friday evening with an opening ceremony before the actual Games start on Saturday.
Zambia’s eighth athlete, Tony Wamulwa was dropped from the Olympics squad a day before the team travelled to Scotland on July 9 following a road traffic accident he was involved in on the Great North Road.
Zambia boasts only of two medals since the inception of the Games under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1896.
The nation’s first Olympic medal was a bronze won by boxer, Keith Mwila at the Los Angeles 1984 Games before former world 400-metre hurdles champion, Samuel Matete added a silver at the Atlanta 1996./Times of Zambia