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Zambia 5050 blog – reflecting on a wonderful week and an unforgettable summer of sport

20 August 2017

University of Bath student Jake Samuel is part of the organising team for the Zambia 5050 charity challenge, a fundraising campaign led by Olympian Mel Marshal and Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty to create sporting opportunities for some of Africa’s poorest children.

Marshal and Peaty, along with their team, are undertaking ten hours of sport with children each day for five days at five different locations in the capital city of Lusaka and its surrounding communities with the aim of raising £50,000.

Samuel, who studies Sports & Social Sciences, is in Lusaka helping to deliver the logistics of the programme as part of the annual Volunteer Zambia project involving universities in the Wallace Group of UK Higher Education Institutions.

He is providing a daily blog from Zambia on the challenge, which concluded today with a multi-sport challenge, swimming against an Olympic Champion and some emotional farewells….

Day 5 – Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) – triathlon

The last day was finally here and when we got up at 5.30am, it was safe to say we were all on our last legs, even having had a cup of tea. Once the bus was packed, with only people this time as all of today’s Zambian participants are athletes and have their own kit for themselves, we expected the journey to be around 40 minutes but when we passed Friday’s Corner (the name of a shop), we realised it was going to be far quicker than we anticipated.

The tents had already been put up too and the chairs only needed unstacking, so our next job on the agenda was to play headers and volleys with the lads on the football pitch for 40 minutes. However, during this time the wind picked up massively and we soon realised the tent was a massive safety hazard, so when the delegates arrived we had to set up camp a little further down the track. It seemed to work well, even without the tent.

We started the first challenge at 8.30am, running in a relay format. Over the course of the next three hours, we all had a chance to set 400m lap times and I came out on top with the quickest time of 57.4secs, three-tenths ahead of swimmer and delegate Ryan Lovatt who was not happy!

None of us were as quick as Zambian national 400m runner Daniel, who is 18 years old and ran the distance in 46 seconds – a phenomenally quick time and hopefully we will see him go onto greater things in the future.

Once the running finished at 11.30am, the delegates had a quick rest before jumping onto the bikes. They were kindly provided by Zambian cyclists from the OYDC and while almost half had gear problems, they were soon fixed by Harry Gunning (a media student from St Andrews and also,it seems, a mechanic).

Once most people had a go riding the bikes and 2.30pm came around, we all moved into the pool to start Mel’s coaching session that she had planned for an hour. During this time I took a break but JP jumped in to join the delegates who swam whilst Mel was coaching. He even had a race with Adam Peaty over 50m freestyle and won, with a head start however. The same can’t be said for me as when I took him I on, he had acclimatised to the ice-cold temperatures of the pool and I lost, which is what his competitors have to get used to.

Once all the swimming was done at around 5.30pm, Adam then spent what felt like around a year signing autographs and having pictures taken, which he told me is just one of those things that comes with being a champ. In the meantime the rest of us and the other delegates headed back to the showers – the first constantly hot ones we have had all trip. Afterwards we got changed into our Zambian attire and headed for Clements’ (Founder of SIA and head of the Zambian Olympic Committee) house.

The evening consisted of a few beers, a very delicious meal and some lovely local music in what was a glorious house which even had a zebra in the front garden, and some ostriches in the neighbouring garden, which he also owns.

On the way back most of us crashed out and when we reached home at around 10pm, it finally sank in that what I had been working on for six weeks had come to an end and that it had been done successfully.

The only sad thing now is that I have to leave the friends I have made and leave the family we all created. I just hope that our reunion isn’t too far round the corner.

Donations to Zambia 5050 can be made by texting MELZ17 £10 to 70070 or visiting www.theperfectdayfoundation.org.

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