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Malawi’s sole Paralympian finishes fourth in 1500m heat

September 2016
Taonere Banda and nine other competitors take their marks on the start line for the 1500m heat at the Paralympics in Rio.

Taonere Banda (far left) lines up for her 1500m heat.

An incredible start in the first heat of the women’s 1500m event wasn’t enough to see Taonere Banda, Malawi’s sole Paralympics competitor, make it through to the final in Rio.

Taonere’s training for the Paralympics was sponsored by Sightsavers, and she also received support from the International Paralympics Committee and the Malawian government.

During her heat she started strong and opened up a lead over her competitors. Lane confusion meant she needed to make a swift adjustment towards the inside of the track, but despite this she kept up a blistering pace for the first three-quarters of the event, with the television commentators saying, “This is amazing! … What a surprising and interesting runner is Taonere Banda of Malawi … a very very remarkable race.”

By the last 600m of the race Taonere’s impressive lead had been closed down by Najah Chouaya of Tunisia, who went on to win the heat. The last few metres saw Taonere’s energy running out, and after finishing fourth she required medical attention for a possible leg injury. The race ended for Taonere with a disappointing disqualification – devastating for the team after the months and years of hard work they’ve put into training.

Despite Taonere not making it to the final, we’re immensely proud of having supported her history-making performance as Malawi’s first Paralympian.

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