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Phiri’s Olympic dream ends

Zambia's Gerald Phiri

GERALD Phiri’s London 2012 Olympic Games dream ended here last night when the Zambian finished fifth in the men’s 100m semi-final race easily won by world champion, Usain Bolt of Jamaica.

Racing in lane nine of the second heat at the Olympic Stadium, Phiri clocked 10.11 seconds, 0.05 seconds faster than his performance in the first round but was 0.24 seconds behind Bolt.

Phiri failed to beat his personal best time of 10.06 seconds.

After bowing out of the competition, the 23-year-old described the race as terrible and that he ran against some of the world’s fastest athletes.

Phiri said he warmed up well but was not just good enough on the night and that he put a lot of pressure on himself.

“It was a terrible race. I have no excuse as I ran against some of the fastest guys in the world. I warmed up well but I wasn’t just good enough on the day. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I will go back to compete in other programmes,” the United States-based runner said.

Bolt made the race look like a stroll in the park when he finished some metres ahead of his rivals, Ryan Bailey of the United States of America and Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago.

Bailey was second on 9.96 seconds with Thompson getting the final third ticket to the final race in 9.94 seconds.

Britain’s local favourite, Dwain Chambers was fourth in 10.05 seconds.

American, Justin Gatlin won the opening heat with a quickest time of 9.82 seconds and was closely followed into the finals by Netherlands’ Churanday Martina and Jamaican Asafa Powell.

Jamaican Yohan Blake topped all in the third heat on 9.85 seconds and was joined in the race for medals by American Tyson Gay on 9.90 seconds.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s 800 meters specialist Prince Mumba, takes to the running tracks of the 80,000 seater Olympics Stadium where he will compete in heat six of the men’s race starting at 10:50 hours (11:50 hours Zambian time).

Mumba, who had his first taste of the Olympics at the Athens 2004 Games where he clocked 1:48:36 minutes, boasts a personal best 1:46:14 minutes and will take up lane seven in round one.

Ethiopian Aman Mohammed with a personal best 1:43:37 minutes, will be in lane two, Taess Adnan Akkar from Iraq with a personal best 1:45:88 minutes is in lane three, Kenya’s Anthony Chemut with a record 1:39:96 minutes has been allotted lane four, while Amine Manauiei from Morocco with a personal best 1:43:83 minutes is in lane six.

Kyrgyzstan’s Erzhan Askarov with a personal best 1:55:60 minutes will take up lane eight and Rafith Rodriguez from Colombia with a record 1:44:31 minutes will be in lane nine.

The 27-year old, Kitwe-born Zambian, who has been training with the Santa Monica Track Club at Santa Monica College in the United States (US) since 2008 under legendary Olympic coach Joe Douglas, says he has been training long and hard for the London Olympics and feels he is ready to do his best for the country and hopes to carve himself a name as an Olympic medal winner.

Mumba says he is praying he pulls through to the semi finals and hopefully reach the final; and also better his record at this year’s Olympics adding: “I want to make it to the finals at the Olympics, that is my goal. Some people think it’s impossible but it’s not. I train so hard and I have faith and I believe in myself.”

On whether he is feeling any kind of pressure after his colleague, 100 meters Zambia champion, Gerald Phiri made it to the semi finals on Saturday after clocking 10:16 seconds, eight seconds less than pre-event favourite, American Tyson Gay, Mumba said: “Right now, I am calm, though slightly nervous.”

He said that will however, not side-track him from his goal of achieving an Olympic medal adding: “I’ve kept improving every year. This year my goal is to be top five in the world and on the top list.

At the last check, I was top 20, but this year I want to be in the top five in the world.”

In April 2012 in Walnut, Canada, Mumba timed 1:46.61 minutes, in July 2011 in Burnaby, Canada, he clocked 1:46.14 minutes (a record he currently holds) and a year earlier in August 2010, Mumba timed 1:46.64 minutes in Rieti, Italy.

Asked who inspired him to take up athletics as a career, Mumba said he always had a dream one day he would run at the Olympics because he was good at the sport from his primary school days through to secondary school. / Times of Zambia

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