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Olympic qualifiers expose Malawi Taekwondo’s flaws

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Taekwondo Association of Malawi’s (Tam) failure to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has exposed some of the technical and organisational hitches that the association is facing as athletes continue struggling to make an impact at the international stage.

Malawi’s sole representative during the qualifiers held last week in Morocco, Yamikani Guba, lost out to Ivorian Firmin Dokou 24-7 on points in his first bout, ending Malawi Taekwondo’s hopes of participating at the Olympic Games for the first time in history.

Taekwondo national team coach Lovemore Masinga, who accompanied Guba to the games, said the Malawi representative had given out his best but failed to succeed because of three major factors.

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He said the first shortfall was lack of knowledge about a new system of fighting that World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) introduced.

Masinga said that new system is not used in Malawi and Guba, A British Army soldier, was also caught unawares by the modern fighting techniques.

“There was also a new system for registering scores. There were special socks for scoring points which we are not familiar with,” he said.

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Masinga added that Guba’s height disadvantage also contributed to his downfall.

“All the athletes in the heavyweight category were tall. Whenever our athlete moved in to attack, the other athlete easily won points because his height gave him good reach. It was hard to contain him,” he said.

From an administrative point of view, it was a miracle that Malawi even managed to take part in the qualifiers because Tam faced funding hitches ahead of the tournament.

A team of five was trimmed to a team of one athlete and the journey was confirmed just a day before departure.

“Our friends are so organised and they started preparing for the qualifiers four years ago. Most of their athletes had been training abroad in preparation for the games,” Masinga said.

He said Malawi would embark on a programme aimed at developing the country’s best talent so that it should be ready for the 2020 Olympic Games Qualifiers.

“But we need corporate support to get the athletes registered by the World Taekwondo Federation and they should be active to prepare well for the games,” Masinga explained

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