By ROBINSON KUNDA
SPRINTER Kabange Mupopo has qualified for the lucrative Diamond League next year.
And Government has congratulated Mupopo and Savior Kombe for their outstanding performance during the International Association for Athletics Federation (IAAF) Inter-continental Championships in Marrakech, Morocco, last weekend.
Mupopo finished fourth in 400m with 50.87seconds at the International Association for Athletics Federation Intercontinental Championship in Morocco to be ranked first in Africa and eighth in the world.
She is the first Zambian female runner to qualify for the Diamond League.
Mupopoâ€™s coach, Douglas Kalembo, said in an interview in Lusaka on Wednesday that the runnerâ€™s achievement is encouraging.
Legend Samuel Matete and Kalembo competed in the 100m at the Diamond League.
Kalembo said only top performers are picked to compete at the Diamond League.
He said the Diamond League is lucrative and could shape the lifestyle of an athlete.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Joseph Katema said in a statement released in Lusaka yesterday that the duoâ€™s performance is a source of pride and honour to the nation.
â€œGovernment is particularly delighted that Kabange is now ranked number one in Africa and eighth in the world after setting a national record breaking 50.87 seconds in 400metres while representing Africa.
â€œIt is a remarkable debut season for the 21-year-old international footballer who clocked 53.44 seconds in her first one lap race as recently as this April,â€ Katema said.
Katema, who is also Chief Government spokesperson, said Mupopoâ€™s excellence amidst formidable opposition from the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and other parts of the world that converged on Marrakech, is testimony that Zambian athletes have the necessary skill and capacity to compete at international level.
â€œGovernment is further impressed with Kombe who helped Africa to its second ever win at the continental competition since 1992. Running in a team comprising Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa), and Isaac Makwala (Botswana), Kombe did Africa and Zambia proud by winning the 4×400 relay beating the Americas comprising such greats as former Olympic champion LaShawn Meritt, Olympic silver medalist Leguelin Santos and relay specialist Chris Brown,â€Â he said.
The minister said Mupopo and Kombeâ€™s exploits are a sign that Governmentâ€™s ongoing investment in the sports sector is yielding desired results.
â€œAs we celebrate our Golden Jubilee and beyond, it is Governmentâ€™s resolve to continue prioritising the sports sector as a generator for job and wealth creation,â€ Katema said.
By ROBINSON KUNDA