Middle-distance runner Benedicto Makumba has given Malawi high hopes of qualifying for Rio Olympics after making it to the semi-finals of the 800-metre race at the on-going Africa Senior Athletics Championships in South Africa.
According to www.makingofchamps.com, Makumba won heat two of the race to make it into the last four stage alongside Botswana’s Africa Games champion Nijel Amos, Kenyan Boaz Kiprugut and South African Jacob Rozani, who won heats one, three and four, respectively.
However, he has to pull-up his socks on his finishing time in today’s semi-finals if he is to meet standard time for the Olympics.
He completed heat-two in 2:02.22 minutes while Amos, Kiprugut and Rozani’s finish times in their respective heats were 1:50.19, 1:48.63 and 1:49.91.
Qualifying time for the Olympics in 800-metre race is 1:46.00 minutes.
Makumba, Khumbo Makwakwa and Mercy Malembo hold Malawi’s hopes of making the grade for the Olympics after Happy Ndacha Mcherenje failed to make a mark in 10 000-metre race on Tuesday.
Mcherenje took position 14 out of 16 contestants after crossing the finish line in 29:59 minutes, two minutes, 34 seconds behind recommended time.
Makwakwa finished on position eight in 100-metre sprints after clocking 11:42 minutes, 17 seconds behind standard time.
However, he is still on the hunt for a medal and Olympics qualification as he is today expected to compete in 200-metre race while Malembo, the only female in the Malawi squad, will compete in 5 000-metre race.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed to see if our athletes will make the country proud at the end of the continental championship,” said Godfrey Phiri, Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) president. n