BRITISH Airways (BA) has donated 15 concessionary tickets worth more than K99 million for the Zambian contingent travelling to the 2012 London Olympic Games taking place from July 27 to August 12.
Speaking on Thursday when she handed over the tickets to National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) president Miriam Moyo at a send-off ceremony at the British High Commission in Lusaka, country commercial manager, Beatrice Kamanga said the airline has a track record in flying athletes around the world so that they arrive on time and ready to compete.
And Deputy High Commissioner to Zambia David Pearce said the high commission was happy to host the send-off ceremony for the Zambian athletes.
He said the United Kingdom looked forward to welcoming the Zambian team to the greatest show on earth.
Kamanga said British Airways, the official partner for the London Games, had supported thousands of athletes in sport with flights for them and their families to help them train and compete all over the world in preparation for the Games.
"British Airways has a strong track record in flying athletes around the world so that they arrive ready and prepared to compete.
"We have worked with sporting bodies to ensure we understand the needs of athletes and have practised transporting sporting equipment such as canoes and pole vaults," she said.
In receiving the tickets, Moyo thanked British Airways for the donation and urged Zambians to support and encourage the athletes.
The NOCZ chief said athletes trained under difficult conditions and, therefore, needed support from everyone if they were to perform to expectations.
She said NOCZ was happy to send athletes who had qualified, adding that results from the London Games would not matter much because Zambia was building a team for the future.
She said the National Olympic Committee was looking at positive results at the 2020 Games.
But Deputy Sports Minister, Nathaniel Mubukwanu, who was the guest of honour, challenged the athletes to bring glory to Zambia and encouraged them not to be intimidated.
"Just like at the 2012 Africa Cup, Zambians were labelled as underdogs. For me, the size of a dog in a competition does not matter but what that dog is able to do," Mubukwanu said.
And Pearce, who is also acting High Commissioner, said he was full of admiration for the Zambians who had been training hard and managed to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The Zambian contingent includes boxer Gilbert Choombe, judoka Boas Munyonga, swimmers Jade Howard and Zane Jordan, who entered as wild cards, and runners Prince Mumba, Gerald Phiri and Tony Wamulwa.
Munyonga and Wamulwa are expected to leave for Scotland on Monday for a training camp, while Choombe is training in Cardiff after three weeks camping at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka.
Howard has already arrived in London while Jordan, who is based in Australia, and United States-based runners Mumba and Phiri would join the team in London.