HEALTH & FITNESS
FQM-BACKED KANSANSHI CYCLE TEAM ON TRACK FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS
The lead cycling team has stepped up its preparations for the Games that will draw athletes from all over the world with one goal in mind – to go for gold.
“The last time the Olympics were in Tokyo, Zambia entered the competition as Northern Rhodesia. That was in 1964, and exited the Olympics because it was in that same year that Zambia became an independent nation. And for us, it means a lot for Zambia to go back to Tokyo and show how we have developed as a country, and not just to participate, but to hopefully get medals,” said Kansanshi lead cycling team captain Ryan Ellis.
The cycling team was established in 2014 as one of First Quantum Minerals’ sustainability initiatives, to build not only elite athletes, but developing the sport of cycling in Zambia.
“Anyone who has lived in Zambia will know that people get around on bicycles all over the country, because it’s one of the primary forms of transport. But as a sport it has never really taken off. So, the idea here is to develop it in schools, as a family sport and encourage everyone to take it up as a sport to see the benefit it can have,” said Mr Ellis.
“The preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics began with Zambian events. At the moment, we have reached the top of Zambian cycling, and we now focus our energies racing abroad. This past year, we raced in Zambia, ending in the top ten of the Zambian National Series with the top spot occupied by one of our team members; we raced in South Africa and Namibia and I represented Zambia at the African National Championships where I came sixth. A few of our riders have also qualified to represent Zambia at the African Continental Championship in Rwanda and Commonwealth Games in 2018, which is the dress rehearsal for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he added.
The overall objective of FQM’s sustainability programmes is to improve the quality of life for its employees, their families and their communities. It does this by improving access to quality education, good health, local business development, livelihoods projects and sponsorship of various sports disciplines.
“Around the world right now, heart disease and obesity are becoming serious issues and cycling is a fantastic way for people to improve their own health. The bicycle is still the most efficient form of transport that human beings have ever invented. We focus on the elite performance side of it, but it’s an important way for communities to improve their health, to improve their efficiency of life,” said Mr Ellis.
The mining firm has spent US$43 million on its sustainability and community development programmes by aligning the Kansanshi and Trident foundations’ programmes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.