â€˜Diminutive Matthews Kambale beats championsâ€™ was The Daily Timesâ€™ headline in 1968 when the former long distance runner outsmarted a number of local heavyweights during his first appearance in the six miles (10 kilometres) National Cross-Country Championships at Cobbe Barracks in Zomba to win bronze.
Then, Kambale, who was in Form One at HHI Secondary School, became an instant celebrity at the school that his head teacher often used him as a role model during assembly.
Nevertheless, due to his minuscule height, Kambale faced nagging challenges on his way to the finishing line during that particular race as he had to cross the brimming Likangala River before continuing with the race.
â€œI led from the beginning until I grew numb at the sight of the river. I let seven of my contenders cross the river before I gathered enough courage to follow suit,â€ said Kambale.
â€œThen, I ran my lungs out to overtake four of the frontrunners, including the then reigning champion, the late Richard Nandolo to take the third slot.â€
From that time, Kambale was a national champion in various competitions and was regularly selected for international events such as the 1972 Munich Olympics in Germany, the 1972 East and Central African Championships in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and the 2ndÂ All African Games in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973.
Kambale now laments the tendency of local sports administrators who sideline veteran sportspeople.
After retiring in 1987, Kambale became the AAM vice-chairperson before becoming general secretary for the Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC), then called Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association of Malawi (Ocgam).