Zambia declared its independence on the day of the closing ceremony of the 1964 Summer Olympics, thereby becoming the first country ever to have entered an Olympic games as one country, and left it as another. Zambia took part in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Football is the most popular sport in Zambia, and the Zambia national football team has had its triumphant moments in football history. At the Seoul Olympics of 1988, the national team defeated the Italian national team by a score of 4–0. Kalusha Bwalya, Zambia’s most celebrated football player and one of Africa’s greatest football players in history had a hat trick in that match.
However, to this day, many pundits say the greatest team Zambia has ever assembled was the one that perished on 28 April 1993 in a plane crash in Libreville, Gabon. Despite this, in 1996, Zambia was ranked 15th on the official FIFA World Football Team rankings, the highest attained by any southern African team. In 2012 Zambia won the African Cup of Nations for the first time after losing in the final twice. They beat Côte d’Ivoire 8–7 in a penalty shoot-out in the final, which was played in Libreville, just a few miles away from the plane crash 19 years previously.
Rugby, boxing and cricket are also popular sports in Zambia. Notably, at one point in the early 2000s, the Australia and South Africa national rugby teams were captained by players born in the same Lusaka hospital, George Gregan and Corné Krige. Zambia boasts of having the highest rugby poles in the world, located at Luanshya Sports Complex in Luanshya town. Rugby in Zambia is a minor but growing sport. They are currently ranked 73rd by the International Rugby Board.Zambia used to play cricket as part of Rhodesia.
Zambia also produced the first African-American (Madalitso Muthiya) to play in the United States Golf Open, one of the four major golf tournaments.