Newly-trained para athletes classifiers have been urged to identify and group physically challenged athletes according to their categories to avoid disqualifications at international events.

Para athletics classification expert Mabvuto Chawinga made the plea during the closing ceremony of the two-day Sport for People with Disability Introductory Management Course for 16 participants in Blantyre on Sunday.

The classifiers and coaches are expected to identify disabled athletes in 15 selected districts in T11, T12 and T13 track events categories ahead of the inaugural Para Athletics Championship, which starts at regional level this month.

Kankhulu (2ndR) receives his certificate from Sports Council representative Leonidas Kavalo (R) as Chiutsi (2ndL) and Galanje look on

“Athletes are disqualified from international competitions if they are deemed not to be properly classified in their home countries because such mistakes result in unfair competitions.  Therefore, it is imperative to be cautious and serious when classifying para athletes before any event,” said Chawinga, who facilitated the training alongside athletics expert Isaac Phiri.

Two of the course’s participants Agnes Chikwakwa-Jamali and Richard Kankhulu said they will do their best not to spoil Malawi’s para athletics image with careless classification.

Malawi Paralympics Committee (MPC) organised the training through its affiliate Para Athletics Committee (PAC) with financial support from International Paralympics Committee (IPC) and government.

MPC president James Chiutsi said the classifiers and the coaches have been challenged to identify at least 36 disabled athletes in each of the country’s three regions to compete for slots in the national finals.

“The best 10 para athletes from each region will compete for ultimate glory during the national finals in September. Our vision is to mould para athletes into stars capable of winning a gold medal at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan,” Chiutsi said.

According to PAC chairperson Joseph Galanje, the inaugural championship will involve 15 districts, namely Blantyre, Chikwawa, Balaka, Chiradzulu, Mangochi, Mulanje, Ntcheu, Kasungu, Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe, Mzimba, Nkhata Bay, Rumphi and Karonga. n

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