ALL- Africa Games (AAG) 400 metres female gold medallist Kabange Mupopo has been ranked number one in Africa and seventh in the World.
The football-turned- cum athlete on Tuesday evening scooped Zambia’s first gold medal at the on-going AAG tournament clocking 50.22 seconds ahead of Nigeria’s George Patience Okon who timed 50.71 seconds.
Zambia Amateur Athletics Association (ZAAA) president Elias Mpondela said Mupopo’s brilliant performance at the on-going AAG earned her the good ranking.
“ Mupopo is a disciplined athlete and knows what athletics can do for her. She put up an exceptional performance and she is definitely headed for greater heights,
“ A gold medal is a great achievement for the nation and Mupopo must be celebrated,” Mpondela said.
He described Mupopo’s performance as a testimony of the association’s investment in athletics.
Mpondela said ZAAA with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has invested a lot in ensuring that Mupopo is adequately prepared.
“It takes a lot of years and resources to produce a gold medalist. I appeal to government to invest in athletics just like it is the tradition in football. The refocusing strategic plan is yielding results,” he said.
He also revealed that the men’s 4×100 was ranked 58th in the World.
Coach Douglas Kalembo said he will now shift attention to preparing Mupopo for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
“I am proud to see an athlete get such a good ranking. It is now time to train hard and prove herself at the Olympics,” he said.
Mupopo expressed happiness that she had achieved the target of winning gold at the tournament although facing tough competition.
She said she will now focus on preparing for the Olympics with the target of winning a medal.
“It has been a tough race. But I trained hard and believed I could do it for Zambia. This achievement has inspired me to work harder,” she said.
Zambia finished fifth in the 4x100metres women’s race clocking 44.97 seconds while the winner Nigeria timed 43.10 seconds.
In the men’s 4×100 metres race, Zambia put up a spirited fight finishing fourth but was awaiting the official results after second-placed Nigeria was disqualified for passing the button outside the zone.
Meanwhile, Sydney Siame and Lumeka Katudu yesterday qualified to the semi-finals of the 200 metres race.
Siame finished first clocking 21.09seconds in the men’s race while Lumeka finished third in her heat with 24.65 seconds in the women’s category.
The two were yesterday scheduled to compete in the semi-finals.
Chidamba Hamoonga, Abigail Sepiso, and Yvonne Nalishuwa failed to qualify from their respective 200 metres race.