ZAMBIAN female runner Kabange Mupopo was yesterday withdrawn from the 200 metres preliminary round race in an unclear circumstances.
Mupopo, who failed to reach the 400 metres finals after she finished seventh in the semi-finals race, clocking 52.04 seconds, was later scheduled to compete in the 200 metres.
Mupopo is said to have withdrawn from the race after the Olympic officials advised her to only concentrate on 400m.
Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports Bessy Chelemu said Mupopo was told to concentrate on the 400m.
“The coach Douglas Kalembo withdrew her from the race. They said that she should only concentrate on 400m,” Chelemu said from Brazil.
But Zambia Amateur Athletics Association (ZAAA) international relations and communication manager Davies Mung’ambata said Mupopo only qualified in 400m and not 200m.
“I don’t know where you are getting the information from. Mupopo only qualified in the 400m race. She did not compete in any 200m qualifier race for the Olympics,” he said.
The reason for Mupopo’s withdrawal is questionable because 400m runner Allyson Felix of United States is also the 200m 2012 Olympic gold medallist. She will not defend the title due to injury.
Mung’ambata however commended Mupopo for the good performance at the competition.
He said Mupopo had been a professional athlete for only three years and storming the semis at such a big tournament was not an easy task.
“She has done the country proud. In three years, she has left a memorable print at highly competitive events. It takes more than five years to reach the highest level. I believe she and the coaching staff have learnt lessons from the tournament. She has the potential to excel and win a medal,” he said.
In the 400m third semi-finals race, Mupopo failed again to beat her personal best 50.22s. Defending champion Allyson Felix emerged winner of the heat, clocking 49.67s while Shaunae Miller of Bahamas timed 49.91s and Italian Libania Grenot clocked 50.60s.
Mupopo was the sixth Zambian athlete to exit the Olympics after judoka Mathews Punza, boxer Ben Muziyo, swimmers Jade Howard and Ralph Goveia and 100m runner Gerald Phiri.
Zambia’s hope now lies on the only remaining athlete Jordan Chipangama scheduled to compete in the long distance race on Sunday.