The Malawi athletics national team on Saturday scooped silver at the Confederation of African Athletics Championship (CAA) Southern Africa Cross Country in Lesotho with Grevazio Mpani claiming gold.
A cool K100 000 (about $256) cash prize and a trip to Poland for the World Cross Country Championship are the rewards for Mpani who finished the eight kilometres in breathtaking 27 minutes, according to Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya.
“We have to establish whether Mpani has made the qualifying time, but being the best in southern Africa, it means an automatic qualification to the world championship. We will also send two additional athletes to Poland on solidarity,” Chitembeya explained on Saturday.
Malawi amased 13 medals to finish second behind eventual winners South Africa. Junior men and senior women earned silver whereas senior men claimed bronze. The team left Maseru by road on Sunday.
“This is a massive improvement in team performance as the last time we came back empty-handed from a similar event in 2009. As far as I am concerned, this could be the first time that our athlete has won gold at the regional cross country,” Chitembeya noted.
Before the athletes’ departure by road for Lesotho last Wednesday, AAM president Godfrey Phiri said the K100 000 pledges were meant to encourage athletes to develop a winning mentality at international competitions.
Mpani’s feat should excite Malawi Olympic Committee which recently launched a strategic plan to enable its affiliates such as AAM to produce medalists in world championships.