As the London Olympic Games end today, many records have been broken and history has been made.
But for Malawi, the Olympic records have remained elusive since the first appearance at the Games in 1972. The country is still without a medal, worse still, no athlete has ever qualified for the games.
Malawi, together with Swaziland, were the only countries from the Sadc region that failed to produce qualifying athletes for this yearâ€™s Games and only participated on solidarity.
With the next Games in Brazil in 2016, analysts and sports officials say a lot of work needs to be done for Malawi to produce athletes capable of fighting for medals.
The officials say the Malawi Games initiative, which was discarded before being launched last year, was a step in the right direction for preparing and exposing athletes to top-class competitions.
The main objective of the Malawi Games, which are a national version of the Olympic Games, were to identify and nurture talent from the grass-roots.
The idea was abandoned by the previous government a month to launch, saying it was a duplication of the Presidential Initiative on Sports.
With a budget of K80 million, Sports Council wanted to stage the Malawi Games last August in Zomba, targeting under-20 athletes.
District commissioners embraced the project which would have seen districts organising themselves as teams by holding own competitions at zone and constituency level then come up with a district team to compete at the national finals.
Each district was to have a team of 106 athletes minimum who would compete in eight Olympic sporting disciplines.
“We need the games so that we can see what the whole country has to offer. At the moment, our selection of athletes is biased to cities.
“Currently, there is a very small pool of athletes; hence, no strong competition. After the games, we will select the best for competitions such as the Zone IV, the Commonwealth Games in 2014, All Africa Games in 2015 apart from regional, continental and world individual sport championships. Then, we should be able to do well at the Olympics,” said president of the Aquatic Union of Malawi (AUM), Dean Pinto.
Malawi National Council of Sports administration manager Henry Mereka, who was in charge of the organisation of the Malawi Games said the idea is still being pursued.
“It is just a matter of getting an approval from government. We have the Olympics, the All Africa Games at continental level, then the Zone VI Games at southern Africa region level; hence, each country is supposed to have national games,” said Mereka.
He, however, said Malawi needs to select suitable games it can competitively participate in at the Olympics.
“We cannot be forcing games we know we cannot excel in. We can produce elite athletes in disciplines such as canoeing, the javelin and the long jump rather than those that require high-performance expertise, which we do not have, such as tennis.
“Kenyans and Ethiopians have mastered long distance running, Jamaica sprinting, China acrobatics and gymnastics. They have mobilised their efforts towards those disciplines and they have succeeded, we can also do the same,” said Mereka.
Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) treasurer Jappie Mhango said long-term intensive training at high-performance centres outside the country can help.
“This year, some of our athletes beat their personal records after just a month of intensive training in UK, what if they train there for three years?
“As a nation, we need to find ways how we can fund such long-term training abroad. MOCâ€™s responsibility is not to train athletes, but just to facilitate their participation at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games,” said Mhango.
Sports analyst Kelvin Moyo said if the tendency of late preparations continues, Malawi can as well stop dreaming about Olympic success.
“After Beijing 2008, what did we do? We went sleeping. We only woke up from our deep slumber four months ago to start camps. Other countries already have plans for 2016 and even 2020 Olympic Games, but Malawi will wait for January 2016 to start preparing,” said Moyo.