It is not over until it is all over.There were less than two minutes left when gangly shooter Mwawi Kumwenda took it upon herself to inspire Malawi Queens to a hugely significant 35-32 victory over England yesterday to finish third at the 2016 Fast5 World Netball Series in Melbourne, Australia.
As the fans held their breath with Queens leading narrowly 33-32, she rose on the blind side and, for a moment, floated in the air, her gaze fixed on the ball as it spun towards her at pace.
There was a touch of majesty about her flight and an air of conviction about her deadly intention and in a flash, she scored a basket that earned the Queens the priceless two points and sealed their win. It was game over for England as the Queens took their merry band of faithful fans into dreamland and crowned a happy ending to a fascinating journey full of twists and turns.
The Queens were feted like queens by a sporting world hungry for the global appeal of feel-good tales of the biblical little David that brings down Goliath.
And there were scenes so lovely which should have been fit for the angels in their flight as the Queens turned the Hisense Arena into a theatre of celebrations with jigs of excitement monitored on SuperSport 5 TV channel.
“Words fail me, I cannot just say how excited I am because this is the first time we have finished third in a world tournament.
“Nobody gave us a chance, the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against us having lost to the same [England] side by 21-basket margin. But we had a good plan for them today and we executed it to perfection,” said Mwawi in an interview from Australia later on.
She led the way for the determined Queens inside the opening six minutes, shooting eight goals from nine attempts to guide her side to a three-point lead at quarter-time.
And according to fast5world.series.com, Malawi produced yet another strong quarter moving the ball at pace to spread the English defence, which helped them extend their lead to seven points at half time.
Thanks to 16 points in the third quarter by Joanne Harten, England took a five-point lead into the final change.
In a final quarter that threatened to go either way, the Queens rallied late to all, but announce their arrival on the world stage.
New Zealand blew away rivals Australia 41-16 to defend the honours while Jamaica beat South Africa 34-33 to claim the fourth position.
Earlier on, the Queens had beaten their continental rivals South Africa’s Proteas 36-21 before losing to New Zealand 52-27.
Malawi starting five: GS: Mwai Kumwenda, GA: Jane Chimaliro, C: Thandie Galeta, GD: Grace Mwafulirwa, GK: Towera Vinkhumbo.