By Yvonne Sakala –
NATIONAL athletics coach Douglas Kalembo has remained optimistic that his runners will make the 2016 Olympics despite several failed attempts to qualify them to the Summer Games set for the Brazilian capital, Rio de Janeiro.
He said this in light of the runners taking the quest for an Olympics berth to Europe where he is with the national 4×100 relay team.
Apart from the runners hoping to qualify as a relay team, every single member in the travelling party was yet to qualify to the Olympics where they are all chasing the 10.16 seconds qualifying standard in the 100m dash.
Kalembo said that the team was not leaving anything to chance and that they would make sure that from the two races, one in Germany this weekend and the other next week in Switzerland, yields a spot at the Olympics.
He said the team has put a lot in training and that the 39.99 seconds relay Olympics standard qualifying time set by the International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) despite looking steep for his boys, will be achieved.
He said the runners had been working tirelessly to see that they improve on their time and were focused on making the Olympics.
“We are a solid team, we have prepared adequately for the two championships, I have confidence in them, I know they will qualify for the Olympics,” Kalembo said.
In the Zambian team, there are mainly juniors namely Brian Kasinda, Sydney Siame, Titus Kafunda, Hazemba Chindamba and Joseph Sinkala.
Save for Kafunda, the rest are juniors with Sinkala making the team just because of his multi-talented way as his speciality is long jump.
Star runner Gerald Phiri pulled out of the relay team.
The Olympics has 16 slots for relay teams with eight already taken up which leaves Zambia to grapple with the rest of the world for the remaining eight places.
He encouraged his athletes to keep their focus and place a lot of effort in training so they keep their racing time well with the qualifying standard.