By Chikondi Manjawira

Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, a retired British middle distance athlete is in the country until 13th October, 2018  for a series of sporting and charitable events.

Holmes,  48, will take on the Orbis 2018 challenge through different sporting activities such as running Mulanje Mountain,  Cycling acroos Zomba plateau,  Kayaking on lake Malawi.

While in the country,  the Champion will work with the Orbis Expedition in launching ‘Sport with a Purpose’ a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of key organisations working towards improving nutrition in Malawi.

She will also visit Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to advance maternal health minority issues that are dear to her.

The athlete together with her team that consists 20 people will visit several Community initiatives to raise awareness about health and well being on top of interacting with a cast of sports personalities and officials for mentorship, lesson sharing and networking.

Speaking after a sports reception hosted by the British High Commission in Blantyre, Holmes  described her trip to Malawi as an opportunity to share her skills and knowledge with sports personalities and that she liked she fact that people are more enthusiastic and want to be better.

“I am excited to be here because this is my first time to visit Malawi,  I take this as an opportunity to learn more.

The challenge is going to be tough, but more importantly We need to go to communities, we are going to launch a ‘Sport with a Purpose’ program and that is more important because it is long term and will leave impact on the people, Holmes explained.”

The British High Commissioner Holly Tett, said that it is important to have sporting links between UK and Malawi on top of the excellent development relationship that exist between the two countries.

“We are really hopeful for sports people like Col Helmes, we can raise a profile or something that everybody loves sports and that warms the relationship between UK and Malawi which has a positive impact for both countries.

“Every year we raise money for veterans,  football and netball tournaments.

The British Council is currently doing a big program around football particularly on raising awareness of gender based violence. We have done social interventions through netball as we hope to do much more with the disabled basketball focusing on disability,  Said Tett”.

Francis Kasaila, Minister of Sports,  Labour,  Youth and Manpower,  acknowledged that Kelly is an inspiration that with her experience and knowledge, she will help coach and train youth in the country to improve in sporting and put Malawi on the map.

Kasaila also said that, there is need to invest more in sports sector,  food security, good nutrition at every level including expectant mothers so that they give birth to health babies.

“As government, we have embarked on activities vtargeting the youth especially those in school feed programs so that all the necessary nutritious ingredients are available for them to develop, Kasaila said”.

Holmes is a retired middle distance athlete that specialised in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events and won a good medal for both distances at the 2004 Summer Olymoics in Athens.  She set British records in numerous events and stilk holds the records over 600, 800 and 1000 metre distances.