Adlington and Bike for Africa Team inspired by ZambiaSubscribe
Grace Cullen 12 October 2012
Members of the British Olympic swimming team have experienced a very different side of sport this week, as they visit sport and development projects in some of the poorest communities in Lusaka, Zambia.
The team reached Lusaka to a heroes’ welcome as they cycled through crowds of cheering children after completing a 493km fundraising ride from Livingstone to the capital city. With temperatures reaching over 40 degrees, the swimmers completed the journey in four days to reach Lusaka and visit programmes of UK Sport’s partners in Zambia, Sport In Action and EduSport.
Olympic medallist Rebecca Adlington described the cycle as one of the hardest challenges of her life, but without even a day to recover, the team of swimmers, which also included Olympic medallist Jo Jackson and Commonwealth champions Ross Davenport and Melanie Marshall, were back on the road.
Visiting various community grounds across the city, the team has seen the power of sport in a very different context to their own. Adlington described how even lack of equipment has not held back the enthusiasm of young people.
The London 2012 double bronze medallist said: “Even in the villages, people were cycling along and jumped on their bikes, which were not as high tech as ours, but they were going faster!”
Meanwhile, Mel Marshall, an ambassador for Sport In Action (the charity which the swimmers are fundraising for), is no stranger to Zambia, as last year she raised money to renovate the rundown swimming pool at the David Kauda School in Libala. Inspiring her colleagues to join her, she wanted to share the power of sport in Zambia.
Marshall said: “Compared to sport in the UK, there is no difference in the enthusiasm to take part in sport. The difference is in the opportunity children and young people here have to play.”
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Jo Jackson spoke about the benefits sport can bring: “Sport can help people mentally and emotionally. Seeing so many girls here playing sport, laughing, smiling and making friends, it’s something we should see more of in the UK.”
Delivering a swimming lesson at the David Kauda School, the swimmers saw the potential for swimming in the country.
Adlington explained: “You can see how much they enjoy it. If more children could access swimming, they could develop great swimmers here.”
The group were inspired by the people they met, such as Steven Siame, a former street child who through UK Sport’s IDEALS programme had the opportunity to travel to the UK and is now giving his time back to Fountain of Hope, the orphanage he grew up in. Both Adlington and Steven know how the power of volunteering, something seen strongly in London during the Olympics, has the power to change the lives of people around the world.
The team concludes their visit today (12 Oct) with a day of swimming lessons and a visit in Chawama to ‘Go Sisters’, a girls and young women’s empowerment programme supported by UK Sport through EduSport and international charity partner International Development through Sport (IDS).
To find out more and donate to the swimmers’ fundraising project in Zambia, visit: www.justgiving.com/zambiacycle
For more information on UK Sport’s international programme, visit: http://www.uksport.gov.uk/uk-sport-international