By Mark Etheridge
Debut Paralympian Graham Paull should be in the pits of despair after his disqualification from the KL1 200-metre canoe heats earlier this week.
After qualifying for the semi-final in heat two, a technical issue with his boat saw him being disqualified and leaving a Paralympic dream in tatters.
But, in true Paralympic spirit, Paull picked himself up and was back at the Lagoa Stadium on Thursday watching the finals with girlfriend Nicky Morgan and dreaming of what could have been.
‘I was in complete disbelief when I heard that my boat had failed boat control, I never dreamt that something like this would happen,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I’m absolutely devastated and hugely disappointed that this is how my first Paralympic journey has ended, but all I can do now is pick myself up and look forward to the future.
‘The Paralympic experience has been an amazing one. I’ve met so many incredible athletes and people. It’s an experience that I will take with me forever. Now I plan to go home and regroup and then focus on Tokyo 2020.’
Helping to explain exactly what happened, Paull’s manager in Rio, Fouche van Tonder explained: ‘Graham was disqualified because his boat was under weight by 0.02kg rounded up to 0.05kg. I did appeal and the boat was put on the scale again. I asked if they could put the boat on the same scale as they used in boat control but the answer was no. They did check if both scales had the same calibration and it was confirmed that they did thus Graham was disqualified.
‘The only reasons that I can think of how this could have happened was that they fixed the boat after boat control informed us that the nose of the boat was skew,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘I took it back to the manufacturer and got the nose straightened. The boat then went through boat control and was fine and on 12kg which is perfect.
‘I even put in an extra 10g just in case. After this the manufacturer buffed the boat to make it smooth where they had fixed it. This must have taken the 12g off the boat. Either it was due to the fixing of the nose or there was a difference between the two scales used.
‘I was told that a second appeal would not be allowed as it was already more than 20min after the race and there was not enough time between the heat and the semi final left for them to look at it. I was also told that there was nothing further to be done.’
So while one dream has been dashed, it seems Paul’s already daring to dream again… time for Tokyo!