Malawi is being represented by middle-distance athlete Taonera Banda at the 2021 Paralympics taking place in Tokyo, Japan which SuperSport will be beaming live through Variety 2 and 3 channels as well as daily highlights on SuperSport Blitz — from Tuesday, August 24 to September 5.
The Malawi middle-distance Paralympic athlete Taonera (26) has shown that through determination and passion the teachings gained through sports reign true.
She qualified for the Games after winning bronze medal in 1500m race during the Fazza International Championship in Dubai in February this year.
Before departing, Taonera told the media that she was determined to win a medal at the global showpiece in her second appearance after representing the country at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Olympics in 1500m.
In an interview with the International Paralympic Committee (IOC), Taonera said she unable to begin sport earlier due to her visual impairment that she developed at six months old.
But her determination bore fruits and when in 2012 a technical team from Malawi Paralympic Committee (MOC) that visited her home district of Nkhotakota spotted her tenacity and was roped in to compete in regional and national championships.
She told the IOC that after being identified by the MOC, she was selected to participate in trials at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre where athletes from 11 districts took part.
“I ran the 400m and 800m, and came first in both,” she told the IOC and from there she managed to impress and became the first athlete to represent Malawi at the Paralympic Games when she competed in the T13 1500m at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Acting Executive Director for Federation of Disability Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA), while wishing Taonera best wishes, said making sport accessible from the grassroots level for youths with disability is vital as evidenced by the excellent performances several of the country’s athletes have shown at international level.
Paralympic Games are a major sports competition comparable to the main Olympics — with many of the same sports included, with modified equipment for athletes with disabilities.
“There are a number of children with disabilities who are great at sport. The moment we start investing in schools we will see a growth in the representation of person with disabilities in Malawi,” the acting director said.
“It is true that playing sports teaches lessons of life, such as teamwork, self-confidence, and self-discipline. Sports in school help prepare children to face the challenges of life. They enhance physical and mental abilities of students and help them achieve the goals of their life.”
When the International Paralympics Committee president, Andrew Parsons visited the country in 2018 pledged to continue supporting the Malawi Paralympics Committee (MPC) because to him it was the best in Africa in terms of programming and implementation of Paralympics activities.
He had said this during an audience with former Minister of Sports Francis Kasaila in the presence of MPC president James Chiutsi, saying he visited the country to appreciate in person MPC programmes and also to meet various stakeholders including government officials.
He had thanked the Malawi Government for the support it provides to Paralympics and asked the Ministry to facilitate establishment of MPC’s secretariat so that they have at least one permanent staff working in the office to ensure proper organization, record keeping and continuity of the Paralympics programmes when leadership changes in the Association.
Meanwhile, at the main Olympics, Malawians had the chance to witness — through SuperSport as well — when Asimenye Simwaka broke the national record when she clocked 11:68 seconds in Women’s 100m round 1-Heat 1 but failed to qualify for the semifinals as she was last.
Asimenye was .62 seconds away from the Heat 1 winner Teahna Daniels from the United States who completed the race in 11:04 seconds.
Britain’s Dina Asher Smith was second in 11.07 seconds while Côte d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré was third in 11.16 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.
In the preliminary round, Asimenye came second completing in 11:76 seconds, which was also a national record and qualified her for this Round 1.