Controversy over athlete Kasten
Long-distance runner, Kephas Kasten, returned home from Cameroon Thursday with conflicting stories to tell as Malawi’s sole representative at 2016 Africa Cross- Country held in Yaonde.
Kasten, who travelled without a coach, claimed that he, in 30:25 minutes, finished on position 29 out of 46 athletes during the 10-kilometre race.
This was contrary to results, which Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM), general secretary, Frank Chitembeya, released to the press over the weekend that Kasten finished 42nd.
Initially, Chitembeya claimed that Kasten failed to improve his personal best time after clocking 33:12 minutes during the continental event.
The AAM GS, who called The Daily Times while in the company of Kasten at Kamuzu International Airport, yesterday changed the tune that he got the earlier results from athletics coach, Francis Munthali.
“What I have now are official results. I have the document with me. I really do not know where the previous information originated from. Previously, I did not contact the organisers. I got that information through a WhatsApp message from Francis,” Chitembeya explained.
The GS then bashed the press for too much negativity, saying this was contributing to the association’s failure to source adequate funds, hence they dispatched Kasten to Cameroon alone and very late.
“We have a marketing committee which tried to raise funds, but you, the press, did not support us. I plead that you should join us and market athletics. We cannot get sponsorship because there is too much negativity,” Chitembeya claimed.
Munthali yesterday claimed that he got the initial incorrect results from AAM president, Godfrey Phiri, who was reportedly in touch with his counterparts in Yaonde.
“This usually happens when athletes travel alone to competitions. It is always difficult to get official results,” Munthali said, adding that three people who watched saw Kasten finish 42nd.
AAM wanted to send five athletes to the 2016 Olympic Games qualifying championship, but only sourced K1 million from Malawi National Council of Sports. AAM hardly organises fund-raising events and it unclear if it has a strategic plan.
Kasten said he tried his best considering the circumstances surrounding his trip.
“I spent 20 hours in Johannesburg [South Africa] waiting for connections to Yaonde, where I arrived at 11 am, and got to the hotel at 1 pm. Imagine that the race was scheduled for the next morning at 10:00 am,” he explained.
“The hotel was far away from the venue of the cross country, hence I skipped breakfast to avoid arriving late. It was not easy to compete on an empty stomach. I also had to plead with the organisers because I was late for registration.”
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