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  • Writer's pictureChishimba Bwalya

"Tokyo Games symbolic for Zambia": Delegation leader, Kennedy, shares thoughts on next Olympics

Ms Kennedy

Zambia’s delegation leader (Chef de Mission) for the forthcoming Olympic Games Ms. Hazel Kennedy believes this year’s games will be special because of the memorable achievements the country has made in Tokyo over the years.

Team Zambia will return to Tokyo, Japan almost exactly 57 years since Zambia gained independence from Britain whilst taking part in the games in 1964.

The country went to that year’s event as Northern Rhodesia but returned with a new name, Zambia, after getting sovereignty only days before the closing ceremony.

Tokyo is also the city where Samuel Matete, one of Zambia’s only two Olympic medallists, won the World Championships in 1991 with a time of 47.64 seconds in 1991 at the historic Olympic Stadium.

“For the NOCZ it’s special because that’s where our Olympian became world champion in Tokyo and that’s where Zambia was born,” she told NOCZ Media in an interview.

Summer Olympics, 1964, at the Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan

“It will also be special in the sense that the host country have put in a lot because of Coronavirus although there have been concerns about the games being held but we remain hopeful that they will go on.”

Meanwhile Ms. Kennedy who is also NOCZ Vice-president said athletes that have qualified should focus on using the experience of being there as an opportunity to appreciate the return to a place where Zambia has a lot of memories.

1991: Samuel Matete of Zambia celebrates his victory in the 400 metres Hurdles event during the World Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Matete won the gold medal with a time of 47.64 seconds. \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell/Allsport

She said although everyone was expecting a medal or more from the Zambian Olympic team, it is more important to support the team fully for their achievements and effort and encourage them to excel.

“The athletes have so much expectations on them but they should not cower under pressure but see this as a special time and experience for them.

In close reference to Siame, she said: “Everybody should look, watch his time and observe his improvements.

"He does need to come under 20 seconds for the best results in his 200m sprint. Of course it would be wonderful if someone like Sydney (Siame) made it to the podium. That would be wonderful.”

Ms Kennedy said despite the fact that attention was on medals, the focus of the athletes must be about improving their personal performances and excelling beyond expectation.

She however added that there was still a chance for the country to come back with a medal from the contact sports like boxing and judo.


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