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Malawi’s CWG medal hopes rest on netball

By Sirshendu Panth, IANS,

New Delhi : The disappointment of returning without a medal from Melbourne four years ago has only steeled the determination of Malawi athletes to give their best at the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games here, their main hopes resting on netball.

The 38-member Malawi contingent, which is relishing its stay in the Games Village, would also be competing in disciplines like track and field, boxing, cycling and squash.

“We are world number five in netball. So we are confident of a podium finish in the discipline,” the country’s number two squash player James Matewere told IANS.

Malawi, a landlocked south-east African country, that gained independence from British rule in 1964, got the sixth position in netball in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

The 28-year-old Matewere believes they are better prepared this time and can cause quite a few upsets.

“I think we will pull off some surpises,” said Matewere, who resides in the country’s second largest city, Blantyre.

“We have spend a lot of time preparing for the Games. I know there are strong competitors. But we are confident of putting up a good show.”

The country’s top squash player Julius Taulo has been drawn against former world champion Australia’s David Palmer in the first round but he is unfazed.

“I am in good form and I shall try to make a match out of it,” Taulo said.

Asked about their stay at the village, Taulo was ecstatic. “The facilities are excellent. The Games village is better than that in Melbourne.”

Both Taulo and Matewere coach talented youngsters to earn their living back home.

Formerly known as Nyasaland, Malawi is now a multi-party democracy with a population of around 10.3 million spread over 118,000 square kilometer.

Primarily an agricultural country, tobacco, sugarcane, cotton and tea are the main crops of the nation.

Admitted to the Commonwealth in 1964, the nation made its debut in the Commonwelath Games at the Scottish city of Edinburgh in 1970, and grabbed a boxing bronze.