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Zambia: State TV Ignores Homegrown Sprinter for Jamaica's Usain Bolt

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

On the day a Zambian runner – Gerald Phiri - qualified in third place for the men's 100 meter semi-final at the ongoing London Olympics 2012, the national broadcaster, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), led instead with the qualification of Jamaican superstar, Usain Bolt.

This omission riled many netizens who thought Gerald Phiri deserved better.

Screen shot of results showing Gerald Phiri in third place. Picture coutesy of Sean 'Swaggernificent' Carter's Facebook wall

Screen shot of results showing Gerald Phiri in third place. Picture coutesy of Sean ‘Swaggernificent’ Carter's Facebook wall

Brian Mambwe, a journalist and former ZNBC employee, lamented on Facebook, accusing the national broadcaster of lacking patriotism:

ZNBC shame! How can u lead sports news with Usain Bolt qualifying to the Semi Finals, WHAT ABOUT GERALD PHIRI??? He ran the race of his life to qualify to the Semi final also. Like my friend Kafula said, We are our own worst enemies.

A shocked James Chamunorwa responded:

You mean no-one at ZNBC watched today's games?

Apostle Margaret Buter wrote:

Here in London…..we are celebrating Gerald Phiri's achievement….what a superstar!!!!!

Mambwe was prompted by Kafula Mwiche's post:

ZNBC main news headline! “Usain Bolt qualifies to the 100m semi final” Shame the headline should have been “Gerald Phiri qualifies to the 100m semi final” We Zambians are our own worst enemies! Ndeloleshafye [I'm just looking]

Chillien Dee commented on Mwiche's post:

Bwafya [Problems]! Where is our sense of patriotism. Isn't it more important to Zambians for a ZAMBIAN to qualify versus a Jamaican? They need to use their brains. I am sure in Jamaica its all about Usain Bolt. In Zambia we can't even put our own athletes on centre stage. Who is supposed to promote them if we don't?

On Twitter, there was a fair share of criticism for ZNBC.

@geshgroove  RT @ChaliPhiri: #ZNBC did not know or hear about Gerald Phiri's Olympics activities #London2012

A tweep responded:

@fytzm @geshgroove @ChaliPhiri christ! if these guys think they are journalists, they need to be shot! #znbc #london2012 #geraldphiri

The questions never ended:

‏@ricaluv Ok, #geraldphiri has qualified to semis and all ZNBC could report on was usain bolts, like seriously, where is team #ZedOlympians ?

 Elsewhere others tweeted:

@GNdhlovu #ZNBC led their news with Usain Bolt qualifying. What about our own Gerald Phiri or @PEER_ee ? I'm actually looking for #Zambian bunting!

Responded one tweep:

@CoolKanis @GNdhlovu did they actually do that? Bolt made an headline on ZNBC and not Gerald? The world is coming end. Shame @MYZNBC

Amid all the anger, the runner himself tweeted:

@PEER_ee The press can make you or break you!

Up to the time of Phiri’s qualification, out of a contingent of seven sportsmen, five had already been knocked out of the swimming, judo and boxing, the only disciplines Zambia participated in apart from athletics.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

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