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Friday January 11, 2013

Wheelchair-bound Hasihin sets lofty target

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Paralympic silver medallist Hasihin Sanawi aspires to embrace the spirit of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

The wheelchair-bound archer is targeti ng a medal for the first time when he takes on the able-bodied athletes in the National Archery Circuit, which begins in April.

Besides winning a gold medal in the 400m at the Paralympics, “Blade Runner” Pistorius hogged the limeli ght last year when he became the first amputee sprinter to compete alongside able-bodied rivals at the London Olympics – reaching the final of the 4x400m relay and semi-finals of the 400m.

“Oscar gave a good competition to the ablebodied athletes, showing that nothing is impossible,” said the 29-year-old Hasihin. “I’ve competed in the national circuit against able-bodied athletes but, this time, I want to challenge for a medal. I used to lose in the first or second elimination rounds of the recurve event.”

All the national elite and back-up athletes will be taking part in the competition, thus making it a very challenging affair.

Hasihin’s confidence to go for a medal stems from his exploits in winning the country’s first silver medal in the individual recurve W1/W2 category (in wheelchair). The breakthrough has given disabled athletes a big boost.

His achievement saw him move from 20th to No. 4 in the world ranking. Hasihin was paralysed from waist down after a freak construction mishap seven years ago. But he never let it break his spirit.

He then took up archery and went on to win the silver at the Paralympics.

“I’m still the same person as before I won the silver medal ... but I’m happy that many have recognised the efforts of disabled athletes,” said Hasihin, who is back in full-time training at the archery ground in Keramat.

“This year, I wish more focus will be given to disabled athletes and that more disabled men and women will take up sport.

“For a full-time trainee like me, the main competition this year is the SEA Games. The NSC (National Sports Council) have been very supportive by providing us with all the facilities. All we have to do now is train diligently every day.”

Two days ago, Hasihin received RM200,000 from the NSC under the government’s incentive scheme for winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games.

Last month, he received the Setia Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah (SIS) award and RM30,000 under Selangor’s incentive scheme.

“The rewards for all the hard work have been good but my work is far from over. I aim to return stronger for the next Paralympics in Rio,” Hasihin said.

Besides Hasihin, his compatriot Ziyad Zolkefli has also been given due recognition for winning a bronze medal in the shot putt event at the Paralympics.

For the record, Hasihin and Ziyad’s achievements equalled the feat by the able-bodied athletes at the London Olympic Games when they too won one silver and one bronze through shuttler Lee Chong Wei and diver Pandelela Rinong respectively.

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