Zambia are using the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a stepping stone to their bigger target of achieving a first Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016, representatives from the Government and National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) have said.
Although the southern African country is aiming to do as well as it possibly can in Glasgow, and has already won one bronze medal courtesy of under 81 kilogram judoka Boas Munyonga, the Olympics is seen as the greater target.
Boxer Keith Mwila won the country's first Olympic medal, a bronze, in the light flyweight category at Los Angeles 1984, and twelve years later, Samuel Matete secured silver in the men's 400 metres hurdles at Atlanta 1996.
But a gold medal remains to be won, and the best performance by a seven-strong squad at London 2012 was produced by British-based sprinter Gerald Phiri, who finished fifth in his semi-final of the men's 100m
Speaking in Lusaka, Bessy Chelemu, the director of sport at the Ministry for Youth and Sport, said Zambian athletes should ensure their target was Rio 2016 and take the Commonwealth Games as one of their high-level trial competitions.
"You should know that the target is the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 and whatever you do should be looking to the Olympics so that we finally get the gold medal we have been wanting for a very long time," she said earlier this month.
"We can not continue picking up lesser medals."
Although recent Olympic performances would suggest this target is unlikely, it shows the ambition of the copper-rich country, which boasts one of the continent's strongest economies and most stable political systems.
Zambia has also acted as a sporting hub for the region in recent years, shown by events such as the International Judo Federation Development Project camp, held in Lusaka in March.
NOCZ secretary general, Hazel Kennedy, has also insisted sports associations should move away from making excuses on their failure to deliver gold.
Kennedy said they had identified up to four affiliate associations they believed had the potential to bring Zambia an Olympic gold and had since been working closely with the sports bodies to ensure the athletes get the needed technical requirements.
If a gold medal is to be won, boxing, the sport which has brought Zambia two Commonwealth Games gold medals in the past as well as their first Olympic medal, seems the most likely.
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