Malawi’s top judo female athlete Harriet Boniface and her compatriot Chikondi Kathewera have missed the World Judo Championship which ends Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.
The week-long championship is also judo’s last 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier, which threatens the duo’s qualification chances.
Boniface and Kathewera have missed the championship due to Visa complications.
Judo Association of Malawi General Secretary, Osbourne Kanjoka Banda said they were keeping fingers crossed to see if Harriet has accumulated enough points to qualify for Olympics.
“We tried our best to process all the documents in time but we were still denied visa at the eleventh hour. Nevertheless, there is also another way of qualifying for the Olympics whereby the International Judo Federation (IJF) considers the points which an individual athlete has accumulated from a series of tournaments within a specific period. We are waiting for the final list that will be released this month end,” he said.
However, Banda said Malawi’s solace was Boniface being elected in absentia as athlete’s commissioner at the world body.
“It means we have a voice as she can easily advance issues that directly affect our athletes,” he said.
Boniface said she was both excited and disappointed following the two developments.
“It was my wish to go there and compete. We were training in readiness of the competition. I wanted to earn an automatic Olympic qualification. On a positive note, I feel glad being elected as an athletes commissioner. I have been fascinated because I have been elected in absentia,” she said.
Other members of the commission include Matteo Marconcini (Italy), Masashi Ebinuma (Japan), Natalie (Australia) and Paula Pareto (Argentina).
According to www. ijf.org, the Athlete’s Commission is made up of nine athletes, both active and retired, to issue its recommendations to the IJF and are involved in preparation of World Championships to ensure that athlete’s expectations and needs are met as well as a focus on post-competition and education.
Mohammed Meridja, IJF Education and Coaching Director, who oversaw the operation explained, said it was a record having 360 votes cast.
“It is a record. It shows how much the community of competitors feels about being involved in the life of our federation. Being a member of the Athletes’ Commission is not a question of simply representing, but of responsibility,” Meridja told the body’s website.