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  • Writer's pictureChishimba Bwalya

Mung’andu closer to Olympic qualification - Lipimile

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

MUNG'ANDU. Image courtesy of Mayorova Marina, IJF

Steven Mung’andu has a big chance of qualifying to the Olympics in Tokyo provided he can put up performances like the one he did in Senegal at the Dakar African Open Championship, his coach Moola Lipimile believes.

Lipimile who was speaking immediately after arrival from Dakar on Monday at Kenneth Kaunda international airport said the athlete has a very big opportunity to be at the games especially now that he is ranked second in his 66-kilogram category on the continent.

“The chances are there, he has to qualify on the continent and he is ranked number two here, if he maintains his points now then it means he has already qualified."

Mung’andu won silver at the Dakar championship after a loss to Senegal’s Gaye Serigne in which final. The games attracted almost fifty judokas from mostly African countries as well as France and Uruguay.

“The chances are there, he has to qualify on the continent and he is ranked number two here, if he maintains his points now then it means he has already qualified."

The championships were Olympic qualifiers but having missed out, Mung’andu has another chance in December in Madagascar from the 17th to 20th and Lipimile has set his sights there to ensure that the France-based judoka can qualify.

“We don’t want to relent to say just because he is almost qualifying we sit back, we are trying to look at the next competitions on how he can improve and I have written notes for him,” Lipimile said.

Meanwhile, the coach has also commended Mung’andu for his performance at the recently ended championship adding that he was focused despite missing out on the gold medal.

“I think Steve performed extremely well, he was focused and he’s lucky that we adequately prepared in France, so basically he was ready.

“The only thing I saw was that he lacking competition because of that long break from Coronavirus. So for him to pick and concentrate he needed time.

LIPIMILE with Mung'andu's silver medal after his arrival at KKIA in Lusaka on Monday. Photo courtesy of; NOCZ Media

The judoka has since returned to France where he is on an Olympic scholarship programme which was given to him by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2019.

And Lipimile believes with the performances that Mung’andu is putting in on the global stage, Zambia could have finally found its winning formula to get into the medal brackets.

“I’m calling it as having found a formula, we have been doing well for a long time in the juniors and the cadets, wherever we go we get medals."

“So we were trying to look for a way of how we were going to break into the senior team, so it’s like the pathway was being blocked somewhere but for the past few years and looking at our eight-year strategic plan, I think we have put in a good effort.”

The medal. Photo courtesy of: NOCZ Media

On qualification to the Olympics, if Mung'andu manages, he could join swimmers Tilka Paljk, Ralph Goveia, sprinter Sydney Siame, boxers Stephen Zimba, Patrick Chinyemba, Evaristo Mulenga and the senior national women's football team as the only athletes to do so for Zambia.


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