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  • Writer's pictureChishimba Bwalya

"RHODA HAS POTENTIAL": Olympian believes the sprinter can qualify with enough exposure

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

RHODA Njobvu

RHODA Njobvu has a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games but she will need enough international exposure to test her abilities, Zambian Olympian Samuel Matete believes.

Matete said the sprinter has shown a lot of potential on the local scene but how she competes on the international scene is what would really determine whether she was going to make it to this year’s games in Tokyo or not.

“Rhoda has a chance but we need to see her improvement in line with the international stage, at the moment she is progressing locally but we need to see international competitions like the way she competed in Kenya.

“This is what we are waiting for, the opportunity is there and potential but it's not just about Zambia or Africa, it’s about the world.”

Njobvu is on the verge of becoming only the sixth woman in the 21st century to qualify for the games in athletics for Zambia but only if she beats the 22.80 seconds qualification time in 200 metres.

After a somewhat rollercoaster year in 2020 where she did not see much competitions as a result of coronavirus, Njovu will be looking at 2021 as an ultimate year for her to secure qualification.

Currently, her personal best stands at 23.07s in 200m and 11.20s in 100m, which were set at the All-Comers in Lusaka in November last year.

The 26-year-old has undergone a timely progression that has seen her become one of the top-rated female athletes on the continent.

And National Olympics Committee (NOCZ) Vice-President Hazel Kennedy believes the rise of women athletes in the country like Njobvu has been long overdue as many have shown potential to get to the top of sports.

Speaking from her base in Kitwe, Ms. Kennedy said despite sports in the country having been dominated by male athletes in the past, women had shown potential too and they needed to be recognised.

“We should have been talking about Rhoda and other women athletes four years ago, it’s nice to see a female athlete on the track.” She said.

"Currently, her personal best stands at 23.07s in 200m and 11.20s in 100m, which were set at the All Comers in Lusaka in November last year."

Meanwhile, Matete believes Zambians may have to be patient for them to see another athlete winning a medal at the Olympics.

He said the athletes’ world rankings in their various sporting disciplines would determine whether they would win or not.

“We have to wait for the rankings, I know that even now when we go to the world rankings, Sydney (Siame) is not in the top 10. Right now we are not in a place to talk about a medal,” he said when asked, “We still have a long way to go. Hopefully this time he will make the second round.”

It has been 25 years since the country won a medal there, a silver, in athletics through Matete himself while the other was won in 1984 by Keith ‘Spinx’ Mwila who scooped a bronze in Los Angeles, United States of America.

Matete became Zambia's second of only two athletes to have won a medal at the Olympics at the 1996 Games.


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