• Chishimba Bwalya

Zambian athletes draw lessons from World Relay Championships

Updated: 4 days ago


Katundu launches as she extends her hand to receive baton from Mpondela in their 4x100 relay race at the World Relay Championships in Poland on Saturday night.

SPRINTER Suwilanji Mpondela believes Zambia’s participation at the World Relay Championships in Poland was a learning experience for the athletes and will motivate them ahead of the African Championships next month.


The team comprising: Rhoda Njobvu, Lumeka Katundu, Hellen Makumba and Mpondela finished fifth in the second heat of the 4x100 relay behind winners Netherlands who clocked 43.28 seconds ahead of Poland, Equador and Ireland respectively.


Speaking after the race, on Sunday morning, Mpondela said the women’s team had made history for the country and drawn lessons ahead of what is expected to be a busy year with the Olympic Games coming up in July.


“We are motivated,” she said, “We will not lose hope just because of one mishap. What makes athletes is learning from experience and doing better the next time.


“We already made history by being the first Zambian team to ever qualify for world relays across the board, men and women”.


She revealed that following their elimination, the team was looking forward to other competitions that had been lined up.


She said: “We are ready and looking forward to racing again in Zambia on the May 15 and the African Championships thereafter. The whole team hopes our nation can be supportive during the building stages”.


Zambia who clocked 44.81s started well despite finishing fifth: Mpondela, who was in lane seven set the momentum before handing the baton to Katundu with the team in second behind Equador’s Angela Tenorio.


But Katundu was by-passed before the baton was given to Makumba; meaning Njobvu who was the finisher, could do little to catch up despite her efforts.


The result meant Zambia had missed an opportunity to qualify another set of athletes for the Tokyo Games.


However, not all hope may be lost with the Algeria-slated African Senior Championships which start on June 27 also being an Olympic qualifying event.


The quartet will be taking part following their qualification at the previous Meet held in Lusaka in April where they clocked 43.85s.


And before that, the athletes will take part in the All Comers Meet set to be held at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on May 15.