• Chishimba Bwalya

Mung'andu goes for Judo Championships; Another chance at Olympics qualification


MUNG'ANDU at the Zagreb Grandprix in 2019. Photo courtesy of IJF

At long last, the 41st African senior Championship of Judo will now come to pass in Madagascar from the 17th to 20th of December.


In a year where everything has been affected by the Coronavirus, the judo championships too have been twice disrupted. They were supposed to be held in Morocco in April, then November before being moved to Antananarivo, the Malagasy capital.


Top Judokas are set to meet in a tournament that is also billed as an Olympics qualifier for Tokyo games in 2021.


After missing out on qualification at the Dakar Open championship in Senegal last month, Zambian judoka Steven Mung’andu will certainly have his attention set on the tournament for him to compete in Tokyo next year.


it is a date with destiny for the France based judoka who missed out last time after losing in the final after losing to Senegal’s Gaye Serigne, consequently settling for a silver medal.


His coach Moola Lipimile has often expressed confidence in the 66kg man adding that he can be the next athlete to book a ticket for multi-sport competition in Japan next year so long as he maintains a consistent performance.


“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."


“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.”


Lipimile who also spoke earlier before the draws were done on Thursday said it would be a tricky battle for Mung’andu who is ranked 4th in his category out of 19 judokas.


“It is 50-50 competition and anything can happen and we hope for the better. So far morale in the camp is high and we are hoping that at the end of the day we know who gets gold or silver but we are ready.”

Mung'andu (white) in action at the Zagreb Grand Prix in 2019. Photo courtesy of IJF

With Mung’andu edging closer and his development in the last few years that earned him his current Olympic Scholarship also moving higher, Lipimile is confident that Zambia Judo has found a winning formula that will see them achieve major results in future competitions.


To ensure qualification, Mung’andu will have to finish first to earn the maximum 700 points that will be required. But should he fail to do so at this years’ event, he will have his final opportunity to do so in April, 2021.


This year’s championship has also seen major changes necessitated by the spread of Coronavirus. One of those changes is that there will be no cadet and kata competitions will be held.