Athlete of the moment Asimenye Simwaka was Sunday close to ending Team Malawi’s 36-year drought for a Commonwealth Games medal but could only settle for position six despite improving her record in the women’s 400m final.
Simwaka, who is the first Malawian athlete to have reached the final of 400m and semifinals of 200m, run 51.55 from 51.70 to improve her record for the third time at the competition.
In an event monitored on SuperSport, Simwaka started impressively, occupying the bronze slot for the better part of the race but lost steam towards the last 50m as she was overtaken by others.
Sada Williams of Barbados won gold in a Games’ record time of 49.90s.
England duo of Victoria Ohuruogu and Jodie Williams claimed silver and bronze, respectively, in times of 50.72s for Ohuruogu, a personal best, and 51.26s for Williams, a season’s best.
Simwaka was unavailable for a comment.
The focus was on Simwaka as Team Malawi struggled in all five disciplines they featured.
However, Malawi Olympic Committee (Moc) President Jappie Mhango said Simwaka will be given K1 million despite failing to win a medal.
“In recognition of Asimenye’s outstanding performance, Moc will reward her with K1 million. Yes she did not win a medal but we have seen her breaking national and personal best records three times in one event. She was only identified two years ago and we need to encourage her,” Mhango said.
Ironically, Moc had dangled K1.5 million to any medal winner for Team Malawi but no member of the team won a medal.
Team Malawi had 22 athletes drawn from netball (12), boxing (three), judo (two), athletics (three) and swimming (two).
Malawi made its Commonwealth Games debut in 1970 in Edinburg, Scotland, where boxer Tatu Chionga won Team Malawi’s first bronze medal.
Team Malawi has three bronze medals and boxers have won all of Malawi’s medals.
The last time Team Malawi won medals was also in Edinburgh, in 1986, when boxers Lyton Mphande and Solomon Kondowe earned bronze each.