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Athletics head coach opens up to veterans

Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) head coach, Francis Munthali, has called on the country’s veteran athletes to come forward with ideas on how Malawi can qualify for this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.

Munthali said qualifying for the tournament is not an easy task, hence the need for all stakeholders to bang heads on how Malawi can make it to the event through qualification.

The country has never qualified for the Games before and has been sending athletes on solidarity, an arrangement that allows countries whose athletes have failed to meet the qualifying standards to still send competitors.

The coach observed that qualification for the event would be an uphill task since preparations have started late.

“The Games will take place in July and August yet our preparations are beginning just now. You cannot prepare for such a big tournament in six months. You need three to four years. That is what our counterparts elsewhere are doing,” said Munthali.

He pointed out that given enough time for training and preparation, he could produce athletes that would qualify for any big international event.

AAM general secretary, Frank Chitembeya, said the International Association for Athletics Federations had written the association to guarantee it a quota of two athletes- one male and the other female, for Brazil on solidarity.

But he stated that AAM was doing all it could to participate in all the qualifying tournaments so as to produce athletes that meet the set standards.

“Participation in international tournaments on solidarity is something we cannot be proud of. If we want to be counted among the best, we must qualify. We have had athletes in the past who have missed qualification with just a few seconds. Our intention is to do it for the first time this year,” said Chitembeya.

Malawi Olympic Committee president, Oscar Kanjala, said his body has left the issue of participation in the qualifying games to the associations themselves and would take over afterwards.

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