Mega-happy Mujinga Kambundji

Majinga Kambunji
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If there is one athlete who has been setting the Letzigrund alight during these championships, it is Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji. 

The 22-year-old from Berne has quite simply taken the stadium by storm just as much as the spectators have taken her to their hearts.

In the first few days of these championships, Kambundji has singlehandedly put Swiss sprinting back on the map first and foremost with the quality of her performance, backed up by an engaging smile.

In the 100m heats she produced the first roar by reducing her own national record by 0.01to 11.32, but then demolished it with a storming semi-final blast of speed bringing it down to a more than respectable 11.20.

“This is incredible!” was her reaction. “I did not expect such a great time! I am very happy.”

That time places her amongst the European elite, but there was more to come in the final on a damp Wednesday evening when she flew down the track to grab fourth spot only just missing out on a medal by the slender margin of 0.08.

“Mega happy” was how Kambundji described her mood. “I hadn’t reckoned on getting to the final.”

But the story does not end with the short sprint. The morning after the 100m final, Kambundji lined up yet again, this time in the 200m.

Continuing a theme she started on Monday she stormed around the bend to the now familiar roar and yet another personal best of 23.05.

That represents another age-group record that puts the 23-sec barrier well within her reach.

Her reaction was to be equally amazed at her own performance and the reception she has been getting.

“I do not know how I always achieve these fast times and these national records. This race was not at 100%.”

She followed that up with a vote of thanks to the support she has been receiving which has given her extra wings: “I enjoy every race here. And I really feel the strong support and energy of the crowd.”

It is entirely appropriate that Kambundji’s career should have achieved lift-off in the Letzigrund because it was here that she set out on her quest all of five years ago when at just 17, she won her first sprint double at the Swiss championships.

It was last autumn that Kambundji took the important step of moving to Mannheim to train under Valerij Bauer alongside the former European champion Verena Sailer amongst others. The results could be seen on the track with a lightning start and a strong pick up.

She has reached her first real peak in the Letzigrund Stadium and clearly, there is still more to come.