SPRINTER Brian Kasinda revived Zambia’s slim hopes of winning another medal at the Congo Brazzaville 2015 All-Africa Games (AAG) after racing to the 100m finals as compatriot Sydney Siame was disqualified for false start.
It was a fairly good day for Team Zambia at the opening day of athletics at the pan-African Games with African women 400m champion Mupopo Kabange and Saviour Kombe storming the semi-finals.
Kasinda, Mupopo and Kombe were all expected to compete in the final and semi-finals, respectively, last evening.
It was, however, a bad night for Siame as he was barred from competing in the 100m semi-final after making a false start in heat two.
Siame was later followed off the running track by Hitjivirue Kaanjuka of Namibia who also made a false start when the race was about to start for a second time.
The heat was eventually won by Oghene Egwero of Nigeria who clocked 10.06 seconds with Wilfred Hua Koffy of Ivory Coast in second place on 10.14 seconds.
Kasinda redeemed Zambia’s hopes of adding more medals on the bronze boxer Ben Muziyo won with a strong run to win his competitive heat three after timing 10.29 seconds.
“I will put in my level best and I am confident of winning a medal, I don’t mind which one (medal) but I will win one. It won’t be easy because I know I will be competing against strong opponents but I will do my best,” Kasinda said.
Titus Kafunda finished fourth in his 100m men’s semi-finals heat where he clocked 10.49 seconds behind winner Youssef Meite of Ivory Coast who hit an impressive 10.12 seconds.
Nigerian Nicholas Imhoaperamhe and Dantago Gurirab of Namibia both tied on 10.39 seconds while Kafunda was fourth and managed to reduce on his time of 10.58 seconds recorded in the qualifying heats.
In the 400m women qualifiers, Mupopo cruised to the semi-finals timing 51.19 seconds way ahead of second-placed Adeloye Oluwatosin of Nigeria.
Mupopo, a former Shepolopolo captain, was in a class of her own starting the race with power before increasing her tempo as she passed the 200m mark to open up a healthy gap on Oluwatosin, who timed 51.86 seconds, as Leni Shida of Uganda finished third on 53.00 seconds.
However, Rhoda Njobvu killed the rhythm after a disappointing run in heat three after finishing fifth clocking 54.35 seconds to miss out on a final place with Nigerian Okon Patience George winning the race with a time of 52. 87 seconds.
In the 100m semi-finals, Yvonne Nalishuwa repeated her qualifying time of 12.12 seconds which saw her finish in a distant seventh place in heat two won by Josee Talou of Ivory Coast who clocked 11.07 seconds.
In second place was Eunice Kadogo of Kenya on 11.58 seconds followed by Beatrice Gyaman of Ghana on 11.70 seconds.
Kombe finished second in 400m his qualifying heat to reach the semi-finals after clocking 46.12 seconds behind winner Nkobolo Onkabetse of Botswana who timed 45.46 seconds with Gueye Mamadaou of Nigeria finishing third on 45.84 seconds.
Joseph Sinkala tumbled to ninth place in his 400m race after clocking 49.55 seconds to miss out on a place in the semi-finals.
Elnour Sadam of Sudan won the heat timing 45.85 seconds followed by N.S Oghenewegba of Nigeria on 46.24 seconds and Raymond Kibet of Kenya was in third place on 46.67 seconds.
Meanwhile, coach Douglas Kelembo was excited with the performance of the athletes, saying it was a sign that the sport was improving and getting the needed recognition both in Africa and in the world.
Kalembo regretted Siame’s disqualification, saying Zambia’s chances of winning medals in 100m would have been enhanced if he together with Kasinda reached the finals.
Meanwhile, the boxers and swimmers returned home on Sunday night.