Athletics coach blames loss on route condition


Athletics coach John Mwathiwa has blamed the condition of the route for the poor showing of Malawi’s representatives at the African Cross Country Championships in Chlef, Algeria, on Saturday.

Kefas Kasteni and Cecilia Mhango competed for Malawi at the continental event which Kenyans, Ugandans, Eritreans and Ethiopians dominated.

Kasteni clocked 31:36 to finish on position 11 out of 56 runners in the senior men’s category which Kenya’s Alfred Barkach won in 30:47.


The result means the Malawian failed to improve on his 31:04 finish at last month’s national cross country championship in Mzuzu by 32 seconds.

In the women’s category, Cecilia Mhango was worse with a 25th position finish out of 48 competitors in 42:32.

Celliphine Chespol of Kenya won the category after clocking 35:10 in the 10-kilometre event.


Mwathiwa said Mhango and Kasten failed to beat their national records because the route became slippery due to heavy rains.

“They would have performed better had it not been for the condition of the route. The terrain was also very rough compared to what we have in Malawi,” Mwathiwa said upon his return from Algeria on Monday afternoon.

Athletics Association of Malawi General Secretary, Frank Chitembeya, said Kasten needed to compete at the continental tournament as part of his preparations for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast City, Australia.

Chitembeya said the Malawi Defence Force athlete’s position made him the best from Southern Africa and was congratulated by Kenyan runners for giving them a run for their money.

“Kasten may not have equalled or beaten his record, but he has improved from position 25 in the 2016 African Cross Country Championships in Equatorial Guinea to 11th this year. We believe that he will win for us in Australia,” Chitembeya said

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