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AAM failing to regulate races

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Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) is exposing domestic athletes to burn-out, injuries and heart diseases through failure to regulate their participation in competitions.

Health and fitness experts have pressed the alarm button after AAM allowed injured and exhausted athletes to compete in back- to-back weeks in Mulanje Mountain Porters’ Race (full-marathon), an international marathon in Lilongwe then Sun Bird Ku Chawe half- marathon (21.1 kilometres) in the last two weeks.

Desperate for such rare marathons and with it, lucrative prize money, Dorris Fischer emerged champion in both races’ women’s category while Tereza Master—after dropping out in the Porters race due to exhaustion and an injury— limped her way to emerge second in the Ku Chawe race. Master was eventually disqualified for removing her chest number sticker.

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Athlete Mike Tebulo skipped the Porters’ race, but competed in the Lilongwe marathon and the Ku Chawe race to emerge second and third respectively. The Lilongwe event winner pocketed $500 (K235 000) with Ku Chawe champions getting K150 000 each.

“I know it is wrong for us to compete within that short period of time, but such races are rare in the country and we had to make the most of such opportunities. Elsewhere, athletes rest for at least three weeks in between competitions, but this is Malawi my friend,” Tebulo admitted yesterday.

AAM president, Godfrey Phiri, defended his association by arguing that athletes were allowed in the Ku Chawe race because it was a half-marathon.

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“Of course, they were coming from a full marathon but half marathons are essential in warm downs,” he said.

But, according to running. competitor.com, one of the biggest mistakes marathon runners make is not taking enough recovery time after finishing a race.

“After 26.2 miles of hard running, and the months of dedicated training that went into that effort, the body needs a break,” the website reported.

“Unfortunately, not taking enough time to fully recover after a marathon often leads to over-training and injuries. Not only does resting for seven to 10 days have little negative impact on your current fitness, the long-term gains will outweigh any temporary reduction in fitness.”

Local experts such as renowned athletics coach, Evans Chiphwanya, could not agree more with the observation, adding that continued use of the body and mind, without proper rest leads to common injuries as well as affect future performance.

“There is need for the body to rest after taking part in either marathon or extreme sports. For instance, if an athlete takes part in marathon, the athlete must wait for another three months before taking part in another marathon. Even if its a half-marathon an athlete needs to rest for seven days,” he noted.

Chiphwanya said in other countries, athletes are able to rest because they have several competitions.

“Lack of competitions also forces the athletes to compete in each and every race that comes their way. In other countries athletes are able to prioritise events based on a number of things,” he said.

Chiphwanya urged AAM to regulate competitions through introduction of rules.

For example, world athletics governing body, International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) limits frequency of participation within some prescribed time and also restricts under-aged athletes from participating in marathons.

“Any athlete aged 18 or 19 years on 31 December in the year of the competition (e.g. for the 2015 Championships, born in 1996 or 1997) may compete in any event except the marathon and 50km race walk,” stateswww.iaaf.org.

“Any athlete aged 16 or 17 years on 31 December in the year of the competition (e.g. for the 2015 Championships, born in 1998 or 1999) may compete in any event except the throwing events, the combined events.”

College of Medicine’s High Performance Centre, general manager, Augustine Banda, said the body needs to follow proper conditioning activities to realise its full potential during competitions.

He noted rest was one of the essential factors that the body requires for an individual or team to sustain top performance.

“Injuries and lack of good performance is compromised if an athlete or team fails to rest. Remember it’s not only the body that needs to rest but the mind as well,” he concluded.

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