Malawian judo athletes Emmanuel Ndawu, Chikondi Kathewera, Dyles Wyson and Harriet Boniface flopped at the first hurdle at World Senior Judo Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan.
On Thursday last week, Ndawu lost to 2014 bronze medalist Papinashvili Amiran of Georgia in 60 kilogrammes (kg), Kathewera was floored by Zelgai Alikozay of Afghanistan in 60kg, the only female Harriet fell to Argentine Paula, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games gold medalist in 48 kg, while Dyles Wyson went down to Gusic Marko of Montenegro (66kg) on Friday.
Despite the dismal performance, Malawi Judo Association general secretary Ousborne Banda said the athletes put up gallant fights against world class opponents.
“It was tough for our athletes because they were paired against the best in the world,” Banda said.
He expressed optimism that not all is lost as Malawian athletes earned points from close-contested fights putting them on course to qualify for 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
“In judo you don’t lose everything. Our athletes performed well and have accumulated points and for Kathewera it was just too close and most spectators even protested the referee’s decision to award his opponent the victory,” he said.
Malawi’s Japanese coach Ryoma Kudo was satisfied with the performance, saying the points accumulated from this event can help them qualify for 2020Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We need to continue competing until we get more points to qualify for Olympic Games.,” he said.
The championship will wind up on Friday but according to Banda, the Malawi team arrived home on Sunday to cut on expenses.n