Badminton Life

Ugandan and Zambian Players earn Olympic Nod

More players from the smaller badminton-playing nations have secured their places in this year's Olympic Games in August with Uganda and Zambia sending their top shuttlers to Beijing.

Edwin Ekiring will be the first badminton player to represent Uganda in the Olympics after being given a wild card to the Beijing Games due.

Zambia will be represented by Eli Mambwe, who has convinced his Olympic committee that he has got what it takes to be competitive in China.

Ekiring is the number two ranked men's singles player in Africa but he failed to win enough points to gain automatic qualification for the Olympics.

However, he put in some quality performances in a few international tournaments for the world governing body, Badminton World Federation, to give him the green light to play in the Beijing badminton competition through the Olympic Solidarity program.

"We are pleased that our efforts have been answered with Ekiring 's performance. His progress has been successful. We thank all those who have played part in making him achieve this, most especially the Olympic Solidarity," Uganda Olympic Committee president Francis Nyangweso was quoted as saying in news reports.

Ekiring's coach, Simon Mugabi, was also thrilled that his charge will have a chance to battle it out with the world's best players in Beijing.

"It is great he has made it. It is what all of us have been praying for," said Mugabi.

Mambwe, who is one rung below Ekiring at number three in Africa, was also given a wild card spot via Olympic Solidarity.

He has raised to seven the number of Zambian athletes who have qualified to represent their country at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Hezel Kennedy, secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Olympic Committee said they were pleased to accept Mambwe's bid to play in the Olympic badminton tournament.

Kennedy said that Mambwe had worked extremely hard at his game and has improve so much that the Committee felt they had to put his name down for the Beijing Olympics in August.

However, neither Ekiring nor Mambwe are expected to come close to winning a medal, let alone progress beyond the first round of the competition as they take on the traditional powers from Asia and Europe.

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