Malawi's first ever Paralympian, Taonere Banda, has announced she is targeting a gold medal at Tokyo 2020, as she is set to compete in the T13 1500 metres.
Prior to the Games, the middle-distance runner has been training with coach and compatriot Agnes Chikwakwa in Zomba where they will have to stay isolated until they head to Japan on Saturday.
Banda is predicting she can make history.
"This time around Malawians should expect me to bring a gold medal back from Japan," said Banda.
She became Malawi's first athlete at a Paralympic Games in 2016.
Banda qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic Games after winning bronze in the T13 women’s 1 500-metre race during the Fazza International Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in February, 2021.
Banda, who was accompanied by Chikwakwa-Jamali, will be the Malawi’s flag carrier at the global showpiece through qualification.
The Fazza Championship was used as both a qualifier and a classification event ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics scheduled for August 24 to September 5 in Japan.
In Rio, as the sole representative, she took part in the Opening Ceremony as the flag-bearer.
Banda was within touching distance of qualifying from her heat in Brazil.
Racing in the 1500m, she flew out of the blocks and established a commanding lead but tired heavily in the final lap, resulting in her slipping to fourth position.
This would have been enough to see her advance to the next round, however she was later disqualified from the race for leaving her lane.
The money Banda receives from competing in national and international competition is an important source of income for her family.
She also feels it helps to break down stereotypes that people with disabilities cannot be productive members of society.
Banda feels it’s important to be a role model to other young people living with a disability in Malawi, where they are often seen as lacking any prospects.
"Speaking from experience, there’s a bit of discrimination towards people with disabilities," said Banda.
"They think they can do nothing to participate in society.
"In fact, they’re seen as a burden, and that they only exist to beg."
The 25-year-old was born with cataracts which left her, already severely damaged vision to deteriorate through infancy.
Banda is set to be one of Malawi's two representative at Tokyo 2020.