Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) has called off an 18-athlete camp training in Lilongwe which was part of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to lack of funding.
The camp, which was the first phase, was expected to run up to July to polish local athletes to make the grade at the prestigious event through qualification and not on solidarity.
The development comes after MOC ordered the local athletics body to cancel the camp because of poor standards the athletes were subjected to.
However, speaking in an interview yesterday, AAM general secretary Frank Chitembeya said the camping was a success.
“The camping has achieved our goal. If this was to proceed to July as planned, the athletes would have benefited a lot.
“The reason we have released the athletes is obvious; lack of resources. Running camp for a one and half months is not easy,” he said.
On the problems the athletes faced, which forced three of them—Kefasi Kasteni, Grevazio Mpani and Mphatso Nandolo— to abandon camp a fortnight ago, Chitembeya blamed it on government for reducing funding to the association from K10 million in 2012 to the current K1.7 million.
“It’s normal for people to have two slices of bread during hard times. Why should it be an issue that the athletes were served two slices of bread for breakfast,” he said
Chitembeya also blamed the government for the association’s failure to send athletes to Denmark for World Cross Country last month.
“Ask government why we failed. Have you ever seen FAM [Football Association of Malawi] using its money for national team players? We know people, including you, who want to sabotage us,” he said.
But one of the athletes who was in camp, Golden Gunde, differed with Chitembeya on the impact of the preparations.
“The camp is over. They just said they don’t have enough money to continue.
“I don’t think we have benefited much from the camp except physical fitness. From day one, you could see that they just forced matters,” he said.
On his part, MOC president Oscar Kanjala blamed AAM for calling athletes without resources.
“It was their programme. We simply provided them space for free. They said they would provide everything for their athletes.
“There’s a lot more than what we saw. Unfortunately, it’s athletes who are suffering,” he said.
Kanjala also said it is not the mandate of MOC to prepare athletes for competitions.
“Our role is to prepare elite athletes for international competitions. Associations should not expect us to scout athletes and develop them,” he said.
On his part, Malawi National Council of Sports executive secretary George Jana said: “I am not sure what is meant by ‘no support’ when they [AAM] have not made any request for funding.”n