Malawi Paralympics Committee (MPC) has said it will challenge the disqualification of the country’s sole representative Taonere Banda at the Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The visually-impaired athlete competed in the T13 women’s category of the 1 500m race on Thursday but was disqualified because she did not use the recommended lane.
“She did not start the race from the correct lane due to her vision impairment and some rule infringement, which led to her disqualification,” said MPC president James Chiutsi, who accompanied Banda alongside coach George Luhanga, in an interview with The Nation on WhatsApp yesterday.
“She put her best effort towards victory and did not receive information about her disqualification until the end of the race. At present, we are investigating the possibilities of appealing the disqualification decision,” he said
Chiutsi added that the human factor of anxiety should be taken into consideration as this was Malawi’s first participation in the Paralympics Games.
Nevertheless, he said MPC is gathering all feedback and drawing conclusions for future improvement for the athletes and the team itself.
If the appeal succeeds, Banda’s finish time will be considered and she might be given a position in relation to that.
“This has been a valuable lesson and experience for everyone involved in Team Malawi, and the loss has given us more motivation to learn, develop and get more successful for the next games and also to help other people with disabilities to gain more knowledge about such a prestigious sporting event,” Chiutsi said.
Despite her disqualification, Chiutsi said Banda received big support from the local people in Rio de Janeiro as they recognised her on the streets and were asking for photos. He said sponsors have also shown commitment to support her at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
As it stands, Malawi’s participation at both the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympics Games in Rio has been fruitless. At the Olympics, runners Kefasi Chitsala and Tereza Master alongside archer David Areneo and swimmers Amara Pinto and Brave Lifa stuttered in the first rounds of their respective codes.