Graham Paull disqualified

Dabulamanzi Canoe Club canoeist, Graham Paull competed in the Rio 2016 Paralympics but was disqualified after his canoe was weighed after a heat and found to be marginally too light.

Local para-canoeist, Graham Paull has been disqualified from the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

The Chartwell resident, and member of the Dabulamanzi Canoe Club at Emmarentia Dam competed in the KL1 200m para-canoe event, and came fourth in his heat on 14 September. It appeared as if he would qualify for the semi-final the next day, but his canoe was weighed and found to be marginally too light, meaning he was disqualified from the event.

Paull was the first person from Africa to compete in para-canoeing at the Paralympics. “What an incredibly rough day. Filled with huge shock and disappointment,” read a Facebook post by his girlfriend, Nicky Morgan. “This result, however, is no reflection on the amazing man that Graham is, or on his ability as an athlete. I am so proud of what he has achieved in such a short period. He is a huge inspiration to so many people including myself, and I know that he will be able to pick himself up from this to achieve great things in the future.”

Before going to Rio, Paull had said it was always his dream to represent South Africa on the international stage, and Rio would be his greatest achievement. The former North Riding resident had been a formidable rugby player, and was about to play in the Vodacom Rugby Cup 2013 as hooker for the Limpopo Blue Bulls, but a spinal infection called transverse myelitis caused his paralysis from the waist down and he was confined to a wheelchair at the age of 26.

Paull never gave up, and through great strength of will, became a world-class para-canoeist. He won the South Africa Sprint Championships twice, and came fifth at the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Italy and came seventh at the ICF Para-Canoeing World Championships in Germany, effectively qualifying for Rio twice.

Great things can still be expected from this exceptional athlete.

Related article:

Rio is a dream come true – para-canoeist 

Nicholas Zaal
News Editor

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