At the upcoming Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games, Malaysia is counting on four sports – athletics, swimming, bowling and cycling – to deliver the bulk of the 103-gold medal target and become the overall champions for the first time in 16 years.
Chef de mission Datuk Subramaniam Raman Nair was recently quoted as saying that Malaysia has a good depth of athletes in these four sports and they are expected to contribute at least 75% of the target goals.
The 16 sports that will be contested are archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, chess, cycling, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, goalball, powerlifting, volleyball, swimming, table tennis, bowling, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball.
Here’s a look at some of the para athletes who will be competing in the Games, to be held from Sept 17 to 23.
JAMERY SIGA, 32
Para swimming, Malaysia
He’s not Crocodile Dundee, but Jamery learnt how to swim in a river that was eventually populated by crocodiles. While he may be out for gold, his greatest priority is to beat his personal records.
In a recent interview with Star2, he acknowledged that nothing in life comes easy, and earning medals is as much about physical strength as it is about mental power. “You just can’t swim fast if you don’t have the mental strength. I know that if I have desire and determination, I can accomplish anything.”
JOSEPHINE MEDINA, 47
Para table tennis, the Philippines
Filipina Medina won five gold medals, the most number of medals among the competitors for the Philippines at the 2008 Asean Para Games and a gold at the 2014 edition of the games. In the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, she clinched a bronze, which was the first medal for the Philippines at the games and the second medal in the country’s paralympic history. She will be competing in the single and team table tennis events at the 2017 Asean Para Games.
“Everyone is aiming to win medals at the Games. For me, it’s important that in every game you play, you give your best. Win or lose, you’re still a winner because it’s a great honour to represent your country. And, to win a medal is a bonus,” Medina said to Star2.
THERESA GOH RUI SI, 30
Para swimming, Singapore
Despite being born with spina bifida, Singaporean paralympian Goh is making waves in competitive swimming. To date, she has a medal count of 202, out of which 145 are gold. She has been to every edition of the Asean Para Games and collected medals at all of them!
ANDY AVELLANA, 41
Para athletics, the Philippines
Losing his left leg at the age of 14 did not stop Avellana from competing. In 2006, he took up para athletics. Six years later, he took part in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and was ranked sixth in high jump.
In 2013, he became the first para triathlete from the Philippines to win a gold medal in an international race. At the 2017 Asean Para Games, he will be competing in long jump and javelin throw events.
SITI NOOR IASAH MOHAMAD ARIFFIN, 28
Para athlete, Malaysia
This Johorean missed a bronze when she finished fourth in the women’s 400m T20 (intellectual disability) final in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. However, she won a gold medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. In 2015, she clinched a bronze in the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Two years ago, she won a gold in the 400m event and a bronze for long jump. At this Asean Para Games, Siti will be taking part in the 400m and 800m events.
CARMEN LIM, 17
Para swimming, Malaysia
Lim, 17, a student from Selangor, won a gold in the 50m freestyle at the 2015 Asean Para Games in Singapore. At this Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, she will be competing in the 100m backstroke and 50m and 100m freestyle in the S8 category.
Born without a left arm, Lim – who is studying in a private school in Subang Jaya – is looking forward to representing the country. She will be striving for three gold medals to add to the medal tally for Malaysia.
ABDUL LATIF ROMLY, 20
Long jump, Malaysia
“Record-breaker” is sometimes exaggerated, but Latif is certainly worthy of his credentials.
He broke the world record three times in his category, while on his way to winning gold for Malaysia at last year’s Rio Paralympics, effectively becoming the first para athlete to earn the Sportsman Of The Year gong.