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South Africa-based Malawian discovers gold in feet

When Malawian Jimmy Bonjesi trekked to Cape Town, South Africa, four years ago in search of greener pasture, little did he know that he would be able to make a living through athletics.

Bonjesi, who quit domestic football because of a nagging knee injury, has become a force to reckon with after being coaxed to join Whalers Athletics Club.

“I came here not for athletics because I used to be a footballer in Malawi. I played with the likes of Rahim Ishmael [now team Manager of Nyasa Bullets] but I stopped because of a knee injury. Here in Cape Town I was just running for the sake of keeping fit,” he said.

His journey in athletics started in 2014 when he registered for a 12.5kilometres race and managed to finish on first position.

“I participated in the second race [Whale Marathon] in 2014 which was a half marathon [21.1km] and I finished on fifth position after clocking 1:19:35,” he said.

“Then I also participated in another race in Western Cape in 2015 and I ended on third position in 10 kilometres Onrus Race after clocking 35 minutes.

During the Napier Half Marathon 21.1km, Bonjesi managed to reduce his time to 1:19:00 and ended on position five.

Bonjesi’s feat has been recognised by Whalers Athletics which has awarded him with four different certificates having collected three gold medals.

“I am taking athletics seriously because some sponsors have shown interest in helping me to participate in international races. In all the races I wear the Malawi flag because I am proud to be a Malawian,” he said.

Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) General Secretary, Frank Chitembeya, said they would monitor the performance of Bonjesi.

“Of course, his performance in half marathon is three minutes short to our top two athletes. We want to monitor him because we feel he has the capacity to easily reduce time, a thing which most local athletes fail,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ishmael, Bonjesi’s former teammate, said he was not surprised that Bonjesi was also excelling in athletics.

“I know him as a footballer but at school he was also doing well in athletics,” he said.

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