By SANDRA MWILA –
ZAMBIA Amateur Swimming Union (ZASU) president David Thompson says he is excited that for the first time three juniors will be representing the country at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, next year.
Thompson said yesterday that it would be easy to groom the three swimmers for the Olympics proper because it was a small group which makes training manageable.
“The union is not relaxed in training the swimmers because they have to be groomed well for them to reap medals at the Olympics, “he said. Three Zambians in the form of Tilka Paljk, Alex Axiotis and Ralph Goveia qualified to the 2014 Youth Olympics.
He said Paljk was currently training locally but plans have been made to attach her for specialised training in South Africa with the best coaches.
“Alex Axiotis and Ralph Goveia are already training in Pretoria (South Africa) with the best trainers and have not even taken a break for the festive season,” he said.
Axiotis qualified to the Olympics after scooping a gold medal at the South Africa Championships in Pretoria while Goveia qualified in September at the FINA World Junior Championships in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Goveia managed to bring a gold medal for Zambia from UAE.
“I am positive that the Zambian junior team will compete favourably at the Nanjing Olympics because of the competitions they have been exposed to unlike in the past where swimmers didn’t participate in many international competitions,” he said.
Thompson said the CANA Zones Three, Four and Six including the Africa Junior Championship were good exposure for the swimmers as it gave them an opportunity to learn new skills from other countries and was a good preparatory platform for the Olympics.
“I have hope that the swimmers will do well at the Olympics but it will not be realistic to expect gold medals because we are still grooming good swimmers and it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
He said ZASU was pleased with the positive progress they have made so far but Zambians should be patient because swimming, like any other sport, needed some time and investment.
The ZASU chief said for the national football team to finally win the Africa Cup, it took years of preparations and swimming was also developing and would one day pick an Olympic gold.