Malawi’s revered netballer Mwawi Kumwenda is tipped to win the International World Games Association (IWGA) 2015 Athlete of the Year Award as she leads the votes with a yawning gap.
As of Friday, with just over a week before the deadline date for voting, the gangly Malawi Queens shooter had amassed over 10 000 votes —over 6 000 votes above second-placed Russian dancing couple Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulokova, who were fast approaching 4 000 votes.
The third place is currently held by the German Flying Disc Beach Ultimate Team with over 2 700 votes.
“I am overwhelmed by the response from my Malawian brothers and sisters in particular and Africans in general.
“There are still some nine days or so left and my appeal to Malawians and in particular and Africans in general, is to keep the votes flowing.
“Having said that, it is not over yet. Although the margin appears wide, I feel the Russian dancing couple can still catch up,” she said in an interview from her New Zealand base yesterday.
Mwawi is the only African among the 18 nominees for the award.
Sports and Culture Minister Grace Chiumia and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Rosy Chinunda have since called on Malawians to vote for the netballer.
“She deserves the award looking at what she achieved last year at the Netball World Cup (NWC). Government is appealing to all Malawians to vote for our girl. The award could go a long way to motivate the girl child to pursue their dreams as Mwawi will be a role model,” she said.
Her cousin and manager Hlupekire Chalamba yesterday said the race is still on.
“I am excited, especially with the campaign my friends and I are doing for her, not forgetting Our Queens, Our Pride team. We should not stop as the race is still on. Nine days is a lot and the Russians can wake up from their slumber and overtake us,” she said.
The 26-year-old shooter, who plays for Tactix, was nominated for her vintage display at the Netball World Cup (NWC) last year, where her sheer quality shone like a beacon and was named Player of the Tournament.
Mwawi was also named the best player for Tactix last year while back home, she won the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) 2015 Innovative Sports Personality of the Year, pipping revered South Africa-based boxer Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba.
IWGA is a non-governmental and non-profit making organisation which is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with membership from 36 international federations including the International Netball Federation (INF).