Up-and-coming athlete Mphatso Nadolo beat stiff competition to win the 42.193 kilometres (km) Blantyre Marathon yesterday in 2:29:36.
The 23-year-old athlete, who was introduced to athletics three years ago, beat 40 other contestants to better his last year’s bronze medal performance.
Seasoned long distance runner Kefasi Kasiteni took silver in 2:32:35, Jafallie Jossamu settled for bronze in 2:34:37, Chiyembekezo Jamali finished fourth while Chance Master was fifth.
But the participation of Vincent Kasunda, 56, who finished the race in 19th, was the centre of attention.
The organisers and sponsors, Malawi National Council of Sports, awarded Kasunda with a special prize of K50 000 while revered Fifa woman assistant referee Bernadettar Kwimbira-Mzika offered him K10 000.
In the women’s event, South Africa-based Nalicy Chirwa clocked 3:05:55 to beat last year’s champion Tereza Master who finished third in 3:17:11 while Doris Fisha settled for second in 3:16:31.
Speaking after the race, Nadolo said he was delighted to have beaten renowned athletes such as Kasiteni and Master, Evance Nyazure and John Kayange.
On her part, Chirwa attributed the victory to intensive preparations she had for the marathon.
“I trained very hard to win the race. Tereza and Doris did not expect that I could beat them,” she said.
Tereza Master conceded defeat, saying the champion had an edge because she is training in South Africa.
“The competition was good, but I lost to Nalicy because she is based in South Africa where there are good facilities,” she said.
UK-based Malawian Ed Ware and South Africa-based Stanley Mwankhiwa also took part but they did not do well.
Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture director of sports Jamieson Ndalama commended Sports Council for launching the competition which he said is in line with government’s sports policy.
“Malawi Government would like to promote sports in the country through mass participation, identifying talent and exposing it up to international level which is what the Blantyre Marathon is doing,” he said.
Champions received K1 million in both men’s and women’s categories, those in second place got K500 000, third-placed went home with K250 000 and fourth-placed took home K125 000. The marathon was also held alongside a fun run, wheel chair race and aerobics.