Medium-distance runner Cecilia Mhango has failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after clocking 4.49 minutes in the 1 500m race at the Southern Africa Junior Athletics Championship in Zambia last weekend.
Qualifying time for the Olympics is 4:25 minutes but Mhango missed it by 24 seconds. Her only consolation was the bronze medal she received.
Mhango was in the 22-member Malawi squad that has managed to pluck two silver and three bronze medals in Zambia but failed to meet qualification requirements for the Rio Olympics, scheduled for this August.
According to Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) general secretary Frank Chitembeya, Abina Chinga and Nalicy Chirwa got silver medals in men’s 10 000-metres and women’s’ 5 000-metres while Mhango, Ethrida Ganizani and George Jana Jnr secured bronze in 1 500-metres, 5 000-metres and shot put respectively.
On the medals’ list, Malawi were fifth out of seven participating countries. South Africa came first followed by Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Malawi finished ahead of Mozambique and Mauritius.
“The performance was not too bad considering that this was the first international appearance for most of the athletes. As AAM, we will try to maintain the crop and expose the young athletes to more international events,” Chitembeya said.
Nevertheless, Malawi still has hopes of qualifying for the Rio Olympics through four senior athletes Happy Ndacha Mcherenje, Mercy Malembo, Benedicto Makumba and Khumbo Makwakwa, who flew to South Africa yesterday alongside national coach John Mwathiwa for the Africa Senior Athletics Championship from this Wednesday to Sunday.
Malawi has been failing to qualify for the Olympics for the last three decades. The country has only been allowed to send athletes on solidarity.