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Open Play: Tourists to represent Malawi at Olympics again

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No one is talking about it. I mean seriously talking about 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games to hit the shores of Brazil in August.

But five months from now, you can be certain that Cabinet Ministers, Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) officials, a politically-correct sports reporter and very, very few athletes will be on the plane to Brazil for the Olympic Games.

Guess work is not permitted in journalism, but experience has shown that officials outnumber athletes on such trips.

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The officials go there on the pretext that they are out to learn, but we all know that it is all about enjoying a free holiday and allowances.

The money that is spent on allowances for officials is enough to train an athlete for three years and win a medal, but the agenda for our sports officials is not sports.

Because the trip to Brazil will not be about medals— as is the case with other serious sports nations—up to now there is no coordinated training programme for Malawi athletes.

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Worse still, none of the athletes are any closer to achieving qualifying time.

What this means is that Malawi will as has always been the case since attaining independence, be represented by unqualified athletes participating on solidarity.

It is not like officials and sports associations do not know what ought to be done, but they are indifferent because they get away with it so easily.

I mean, is there any individual or sports body in Malawi that, when things are being messed up, can say “enough is enough?”

A few years ago, MOC launched a “Bring-a-Medal’ campaign meant to encourage athletes to aim for excellence, but such an initiative faded like bubblegum from China.

I mean, it was a campaign that was hatched without conviction and strategy, hence it lacked direction.

I mean it is like promising a poorly-trained and motivated Osgood Kayuni K10 million hoping that, just because there is a lot at stake—he can challenge and defeat Manny Pacquiao.

MOC knows better that to produce medal-winning athletes involves long- Term Athlete Development, spanning at least 10 years.

It is such a pity that with a few months to go before the Olympics, there is no coordinated training programme for the athletes.

Such training should be the bare minimum in a country where athletes were denied an opportunity to compete at the All-Africa Games in Congo Brazaville last year.

MOC, Malawi National Council of Sports and all sports associations know that the best way to groom elite athletes starts from a tender age.

No amount of money can transform a poorly-developed athlete into a medal winner.

And by the way, a few weeks ago, I argued that we were too primitive a sports nation to deserve a worldclass structure such as Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.

I argued that all we know is to loot and vandalise facilities. On Tuesday, Lilongwe police shot and arrested a member of a group that wanted to steal metal pipes at such a beautiful stadium. Sure that is all we are good at. So sad. So sad. So sad.

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