SWIMMER Tilka Paljk says participating in international competitions is not just about winning medals but about representing the country and doing one’s best.
Paljk said it was disappointing that young athletes were often put under pressure to bring medals, forgetting the fundamentals of going on tour and representing their country. Sports minister Moses Mawere on Sunday urged athletes travelling to Botswana for the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 games to be focused and concentrate on winning and bringing medals to Zambia.
Speaking during the sendoff ceremony at the Olympic Youth Development Centre, Mawere said he was positive that the team would deliver according to the expectation of many Zambians.
He said the government was behind the team and would ensure the participants got all the support they needed during the competition period.
“I am aware that Zambia will be participating in athletics, athletics for visually impaired, boxing, football, judo, netball, swimming, and tennis at the edition of the Youth Games that will be held in Gaborone, Botswana. On behalf of the Zambian people we wish Team Zambia all the very best at the 8th Edition of the AUSC Region 5 Games. I am confident this is a great team that will go and inspire others,” said Mawere.
Zambia is sending a team of 74 athletes accompanied by 26 officials to the games.
Writing on her Facebook page, Paljk said the focus should not always be on winning medals only.
“What is this? Why is it so important to bring back a medal? And if they don’t? Then what? Let me tell you what, no one cares whether they bring back medals or not, in fact, no one will even be watching the games. It’s all up to the media to update the people and you know what they are going to write if we don’t bring home medals,” she stated. “Zambians fail to bring home medals! It is so disappointing. These are children that you are talking to, you put them under pressure to bring home a medal and they forget the fundamentals of going on tour and representing their country: having fun and doing their very best. Why can’t the media write ‘despite not having medals, Team Zambia did their best.’ It’s so upsetting and the media is so ignorant when it comes to sport that is not football.”
Paljk recalled at the Commonwealth Games, a media woman from Zambia asked “me if I was disappointed because I didn’t make the finals.”
“I was the first female in swimming to make a semifinal at the Commonwealth Games with two national records in one day. There is nothing to be disappointed about,” she stated.
“So please Zambia and especially the media, change your mentality and stop being so ignorant. These are kids and you will discourage the future of Zambian sport if you do not get your act together.”