Malawi’s top female short-distance runner Asimenye Simwaka yesterday made history as the country’s first athlete to qualify for the Condeferation of African Athletics Seniors Championship final.
She made it in the 400 metres (m) final at the ongoing continental championship in Mauritius, where she finished second in heat-two of the semi-finals that saw her cross the finishing line in 54:28 seconds. South African Miranda Coetzee topped the heat in 52:85.
Apart from fighting for gold this afternoon, the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) recruit should reduce her time to at least 50 seconds to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“It feels great to be in the final. I will do my best to win gold tomorrow,” said Simwaka, who is also a women’s football national team striker.
Athletics Association of Malawi general secretary Frank Chitembeya yesterday said they were proud of Simwaka’s achievement.
He said: “We are happy to have an athlete that will fight for gold at the continental competition. Simwaka has made history and we are proud of her.
“This shows that if well supported by the government and the corporate world, athletics can become the pride of the nation as is the case in countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.”
However, the going proved tough men’s 100m national champion Stern Lifa as he stuttered in the semi-finals. He cloacked 10:45 seconds to finish fifth in heat-three. South African Akani Simbine topped the heat 10:09. Commonwealth Games’ elite A-standard qualifying time is 10:24.
Lifa, who was voted the best sportsman during the 2019 Malawi Sports Awards, will have a second chance of winning gold this Saturday when he competes in men’s 200m race.