Former British middle-distance runner Dame Kelly Holmes has urged Malawian athletes to take nutrition seriously if they are to succeed in global competitions.
The 48-year-old, who won gold for both 800 metres and 1 500 metres distances at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, made the call on Saturday during her motivational talk to a group of sports persons, including Malawi National Netball Team players, runners and wheelchair basketball players at the College of Medicine (CoM) Sports Complex in Blantyre.
“Athletes need energy to perform and fuel to repair. However, you first need to know the kind and amount of food you take for a particular sport. Timing for doing that is also important because that has an impact on your overall performance. Without proper nutrition, your performance can be compromised,” she said.
Holmes added that athletes should show determination to achieve success even after failing to do so on several occasions as she did when she won the double Olympic gold at the age of 34 despite starting chasing the medals at the tender age of 12.
Middle distance runner Caphus Kasten, Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) executive secretary George Jana and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) president Khungekile Matiya agreed that adhering to proper nutritional discipline is a big challenge for most Malawi athletes.
Said Kasten: “We mostly prepare for international competitions with inadequate resources and maintaining a proper nutritional discipline is always the last thing you think about.”
Meanwhile, Jana said the council has taken some measures to help the Malawi Queens players have proper diet ahead of the Fast5 World Netball Series by, among other things, banning fizzy drinks in camp.
“However, sometimes athletes deliberately ignore such advice and it becomes a challenge,” he said.
During a cocktail, the British High Commission organised at Protea Ryalls in Blantyre in the evening, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said government is aware that there is need for more investment in nutrition not only among athletes but the public in general.
“Athletes indeed need necessary food for their mental and physical development. You cannot achieve anything in sports when that aspect is ignored. This is why government provides extra meals in primary schools,” he said.
British High Commissioner Holly Tett said Holmes’ visit, which includes running at Mulanje Mountain, cycling across Zomba Plateau, and kayaking on Lake Malawi through the Orbis 2018 Challenge, is aimed at promoting sporting links that have historically been strong between the UK and Malawi.