Malawi’s long distance runner, Kefas Kasten, failed to rise to the occasion at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast City, Australia, on Friday as he finished on position 12 in the 10,000 metres race.
This means Malawi’s long wait for a medal at the Games is yet to come to an end as five other runners also flopped on Sunday and Tuesday when they failed to go beyond their respective heats to qualify for the finals.
Golden and Dalitso Gunde competed on Sunday in the 400 metres race while Chancy Master and Gervazio Mpani ran in the 5,000 metres contest.
On Tuesday, it was the turn of Benedicto Makumba to fly the Malawi flag in the 800 metres race but he came last in a pool of nine runners despite achieving a personal best of 1:57:22.
Kasten, registered as Chitsala, clocked 29:21:68 in what turned out to be his personal best from a pool of 13 competitors who finished the contest.
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei won the race in a Games record of 27:19:62 with Mohammed Ahmed of Canada coming second.
The competition saw Australia’s Patrick Tiernan getting disqualified while Simon Charley of Vanuatu did not start.
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele holds the race’s world record of 26:17:62 which he achieved in Brussels, Belgium in 2005.
Kasten admitted that the competition was just too much for him, saying Malawi’s athletics has a long way to go.
“They ran as if it was a 100 metres sprint. We have a lot of work to do if we are to catch up,” he said.
But Athletics Association of Malawi General Secretary, Frank Chitembeya, described the runners’ performance at the Games as encouraging considering their poor preparations.
Chitembeya said his association will ensure that the runners continue to participate in big international competitions ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.
“Our athletes have the potential to perform wonders if well supported. We are not discouraged by their performances. We will continue to help them improve their performance in whatever way we can,” he said.
Ahead of the Gold Coast Games, Kasten competed at the African Cross Country Championship in Algeria last month where he came eleventh.
Malawi’s athletes only went into camp training with less than two weeks before departure for Australia.
The country’s last hopes for a medal are on Ndacha Mcherenje who competes in the full marathon today as the Games come to an end.