For the first time, two Malawian athletes Stern Lifa and Asimenye Simwaka are within touching distance of qualifying for the 2022 Commonwealth Games on merit.
Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya yesterday said they are hopeful the two will make history as their current records are close to the recommended standards and can easily be reduced during the African Senior Athletics Champioship in Mauritius next week.
Lifa’s record in 100 metres (m) stands at 10:36 seconds, 12 milliseconds behind the10:24 qualifying standardwhile Simwaka’s record in 400m is 51 seconds, a second more than the required time.
The two, who are currently in camp in Lilongwe, are expected to leave tomorrow for Mauritius alongside coach Pachisi Nyasulu, courtesy of the Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC).
“All along, our runners have been participating in the Commonwealth Games on solidarity, but now we are very confident that Lifa and Simwaka will be the first to represent us on merit. Reducing time by milliseconds in 100m race for Lifa and a second in 400m for Simwaka is not a tall order,” Chitembeya said.
He said local runners have never been this close as they could even hardly finish within 11 seconds in men’s 100m and 52 seconds in women’s 400m.
On their part, the two athletes said they already met the required Commonwealth Games standards during their recent training sessions and they are ready to seal it in Mauritius.
“During my training sessions, I have been averaging 10:21 seconds in 100 metres. This gives me confidence that I can achieve the feat on the international stage. It is my wish to work extra hard and even cross the finish line in less than 10 seconds,” said Lifa.
Simwaka said it is her dream to make the Commonwealth Games grade on merit and will do her best to use her performance at the African Championship as a springboard.
The short-distance runners attributed their advanced improvement of records to frequent participation in international competitions such as the Lusaka International Meet in Zambia, courtesy of MOC.
“We have so far been exposed to a number of international events where we learned a lot of lessons on how we could up our game. We are very thankful to MOC and AAM for their efforts in ensuring that we regularly competed in international tournaments,” Simwaka said.
Meanwhile, Chitembeya has saidLifa and Simwaka are the only athletes under AAM that have been earmarked for both the African Championship and the Commonwealth Games.
Initially, the AAM GS said they would send at least six athletes to the games.
“We changed our initial plan because there is nothing in our coffers. We could not afford to raise the K4 million required. We are very thankful to MOC for financially helping us to send at least two runners,” he said.
Apart from athletics, Malawi will be represented in other disciplines such as netball, boxing, Judo and swimming. n