Ex-javelin champ Norsham Yoon throws her support behind paralympic athletes


  • Family
  • Thursday, 26 Feb 2015

Never give up: ‘Throwing sports such as shot put, javelin and discus rely on the athlete’s strength. They need to train regularly to keep their muscles strong,’ says Norsham.

Norsham is happy to train disabled athletes and stands in awe of their courage and grit.

Former javelin national record holder Norsham Yoon, 58, may have suffered a stroke 13 years ago but that has not stopped her from doing her part to coach athletes with disabilities. For the past nine years, Norsham has been involved in training the country’s paralympic athletes to push them to greater heights.

“My life turned awry after suffering a stroke. During the month-long recovery period, I looked back on my past and realised that I shouldn’t take life for granted. I felt I had been given a new lease of life and heeded the call to do my part to help others,” says Norsham during a recent interview at the National Sports Council (NSC) in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

In 2008, the mother-of-five joined NSC as a part-time paralympic coach. After her retirement in 2012, the former Maybank corporate service officer signed up as a full-time coach.

“I had too much free time on my hands after retirement. Instead of idling at home, I decided to take up a new challenge by working full time with disabled athletes. I wanted to share my experience and skills, and train up a new generation of athletes,” says the friendly lady who was hailed the country’s 1983 Sportswoman of the Year.

During the 80s, Norsham was a star in the local sports arena. Between 1980 and 1992, she carved a name for herself as the best javelin thrower in the region. She represented the country in numerous sporting events, including the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi and 1983 SEA Games in Singapore. Norsham made the country proud by clinching several gold medals.

As a full time paralympic coach, Norsham stays on campus six days a week. She trains throwing sports athletes, amputee Faridul Masri, 29, and Adderen Majurin, 33, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Every morning and evening, she puts her charges on a rigorous programme comprising weight lifting, running, and throwing techniques.

“Throwing sports such as shot put, javelin and discus rely on the athlete’s strength. To prepare for field events, athletes need to train regularly to keep their muscles strong,” explains Norsham, who conducts daily training sessions.

While the sessions may be exhausting for Norsham, she sees it as a good way to improve her strength and endurance.

“It can be challenging training the athletes under the hot sun. It is equally tiring, running back and forth on the field to pick up javelins and shots of different weights. I do it for the love of games,” says Norsham, who returns to her home in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, on weekends to spend time with the family.

Above all, Norsham is happy to train the disabled athletes and stands in awe of their courage and grit. In her eyes, the disabled sportsmen are a beacon of hope and positivity.

“They are constantly in high spirits and always eager to learn. Their patience and determination serve as the driving force that encourages me to continue coaching them,” says Norsham. Her dedication earned her the Olympic Council of Malaysia’s 2014 Women and Para Sport Special award for her role as coach and technical official.

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