It is Tuesday morning. The weather is unkind—too cold in Blantyre, but paralympic athlete, Taonele Banda, jumps, splints, twists and turns on the running track of Kamuzu Stadium.
Under the watchful gaze of paralympic coach, George Luhanga, the 20-year-old visually impaired athlete is training harder so as to realise her dream of winning a medal at the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil in September.
She will leave for Brazil alongside her coach.
Banda, originally from T/A Malengachanzi in Nkhotakota District, is determined to build on the silver and bronze she won at Africa Union Zone VI Games in Zimbabwe and Zambia in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
The third-born in a family of four, who lost both parents, said she was determined to succeed against all odds in Brazil.
“I am now in the final stages of the training. It is hard but worth it. I would like to encourage my fellow under-privileged youth to always work hard,” she said.
Not that she is not encountering hurdles in training, but her determination is steely.
The running track is so hard that she has had to cope with injuries, but there is really no choice because the sponsorship she received from Sight Savers is for a camp in Blantyre.
Luhanga said, given a choice, they would train at the Bingu National Stadium where the running track is better.
“We are grateful to government and Sight Savers for supporting the camp. Our training is now at an advanced stage focusing on endurance and speed, but it would be unfortunate for her to have a feel of the actual running track in Brazil when we have one here in Malawi,” Luhanga said.
Despite all the setbacks, Banda is determined to win a medal for Malawi and also return to school as she dropped out in Standard Seven. Who said disability is inability?
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