DESPITE Zambia’s athletes facing a tough time at the just-ended Nanjing Youth Olympic Games held in China, a hero was born in 100 metres sprinter Sydney Siame.
Zambia had Nokutula Banda flying the country’s flag in Judo, Ralph Goveia carried the swimming hopes on his shoulders, with long distance runner Godfrey Chama (800 metres), 200 metres runners Brian Kasinda and Abigail Chongo alongside Siame, all vying for medals on the tracks.
They all tumbled save for Siame, who hit the high, conquered the rest and came back home with a wide smile having minted a gold medal.
Watching him run the tracks of Nanjing with the Zambian flag wrapped around his body in triumph, one could see how elated this youngster was after putting up a spirited fight to outshine his opponents.
Indeed the teenager achieved a milestone when he laid claim to the title of the world’s quickest youngster by finishing the 100 metres race with 10.56 seconds on the clock, the best time ever for a youngster at the Youth Olympic Games.
The 16-year-old runner took the blue-riband occasion by the barest of margins in a time of 10.56 seconds, which was just a hundredth ahead of Japan’s Kenta Oshima, who came out second with the time of 10.57 seconds to win a silver medal with Trae Williams of Australia claiming bronze with 10.60 seconds on the clock.
“I am very happy to have won this gold medal for my country, the race was not an easy one but I am very happy to come out first,” he told China News Agency Xinhua soon after emerging victorious.
The Zambian showed his rivals a clean pair of heels by storming to the final in style when he came out seconding the qualifying Heat after clocking 10.58 seconds, the time that winners in the other three could not beat as Oshima, who finished first in Heat One timed 10.62 seconds while the winner of heat three, Same Ekobo of Spain timed 10.73 seconds.
Siame, a silver medalist at the 2014 Africa Youth Games in Botswana, was just simply unstoppable.
According to the experts, being a successful 100 metres runner, one needs the development of strength, power transfer and flexibility.
The experts have further broken down the 100 metres sprint into the start, acceleration and maximum speed phases, and that sprinters have to lean forward and deliver maximum thrust to their feet during the start phase for the first 10 meters.
This technique also demands that sprinters should then slowly move the body upright for the next 50 metres during the acceleration phase, and then go into long-stride deceleration during the final 40 metres of the race.
Siame seems to have mastered these techniques religiously and he might have applied them to win big in Nanjing.
He didn’t just win a medal but he also became the fastest young athlete at the junior Olympic Games although his 10.56 seconds time could not beat his personal best of 10.51seconds.
Looking at the top 10 fastest 100 metres sprinters on planet earth, of course, the fastest is Jamaican Usain Bolt, who holds a world record. The Jamaican ran an astonishing 9.58 at the World Championship in Berlin in 2009.
Second on the list is Tyson Gay of the USA, whose fastest time stands at 9.69 seconds and also ran a wind-aided 9.68 at the 2008 US Olympic trials while Jamaica’s Asafa Powell is third on 9.72 seconds he timed during heats at the 2007 IAAF Rieti Grand Prix and USA’s Maurice Greene’s fastest time is 9.79 seconds.
Canada’s Donovan Bailey is fifth having clocked his fastest time of 9.84 seconds at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, followed by his compatriot Bruny Surin, who ran his personal best time of 9.84 seconds after finishing in second-place during the 1999 World Championships which was the was the fastest ever silver medal time.
USA’s Leroy Burrell and Justin Gutlin have the best time of 9.85 seconds in 7th and 8th respectively with Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba in ninth position on 9.85 seconds he clocked during the Doha Grand Prix in 2006 while USA’s Carl Lewis completes the top 10 list with his fastest time of 9.86 seconds.
Now looking at the above top 10 fastest runners in the world, the Zambian teenager is not far from being one of them. His 10.56 seconds finishing time at the Nanjing Junior Olympic Games may just be stepping to something greater.
28-year-old Bolt has achieved everything an athlete would ever wish for but the Zambian youngster is only 16 and before he gets older, he is destined to win more medals and set records.
With the National Olympic Committee (NOC)’s vision 2020 that projects Zambian athletes to be on the podium to collect gold medals, Siame seems to have gone ahead of that projection and he might be an ideal asset for the country.
By the time the 2020 Olympic Games take centre stage, Siame will have already developed into a monster of the tracks but first things first, he has to maintain discipline and aim for the top.
“As the Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ), we are very happy of Siame’s outstanding performance at the Youth Olympic Games, it’s a great achievement and we would like to congratulate him,” said SCZ chairperson Mwamba Kalenga.
Kalenga added, “winning a gold medal at a competition of such magnitude is not an easy undertaking and by so doing, he (Siame) has become a role model to other athletes who aspire to achieve the best in 100 metres, so I feel he should remain disciplined and focused for tournaments in future.”
This is timely advice for Siame coming from a veteran sports administrator and a parent, who has seen the highs and lows of athlete in the country owing to various reasons.
For those athletes, who made fruitless attempts to win medals at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and at the Nanjing Youth Olympics, the advice from this author is “never give up,” because the sky should be the limit, one day, they will just be the ones on the podium for medals.
Siame’s victory should therefore trigger others to do the same or even showcase a better performance than he did in future championships.
For now, this author can only wish Siame all the best as he revels in the gold medal success.
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