GLASGOW: Malaysian athletes and officials donned Malaysia Airlines uniforms for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony – a mark of respect for the 298 who died on board the downed MH17.
The Malaysian contingent marched out to Celtic Park with national track cyclist Fatehah Mustapa as the flag bearer. The flag was at half-mast.
Just behind her were athletes Jupha Somnet (cycling), Surizan Awang Noh, Fatin Shafika Md Sukri (women’s hockey), Nor Fidrah Noh, Fairul Abdul Jabal (lawn bowls) and Farizal Ismail (rugby) along with officials Fahmi Omar (NSC press attache) and Mohd Fahmi Abdul Jalil (rugby manager).
All of them were dressed in Malaysia Airlines uniforms.
The rest of the contingent wore black armbands over their traditional baju Melayu.
The entire Commonwealth family stopped to observe a minute’s silence for those who had died so unneccesarily.
National lawn bowler Siti Zalina Ahmad said it was an emotional moment.
“The Malaysian contingent shares the sorrow of the families who lost their dear ones in the disaster. The MH17 tragedy has made all Malaysians united. I will wear the black armband throughout my stay here in Glasgow,” said Siti, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medal winner in the singles event.
Women’s badminton doubles player Vivian Hoo shared her sentiments.
“I feel really sad. I think this (marching together during the opening ceremony wearing black armbands) is a good way to empathise with the victims’ families,” she said.
“I felt truly proud to walk as a Malaysian.”
Top track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang said he was nearly overcome with emotion.
“We had to put on a brave front although I was choked with emotion. What happened was terrible. During the opening ceremony, we showed our unity even in times of distress. This will spur us to do our best.”
The tragedy has also touched athletes from other countries.
Rachel Findlay, Scotland’s women’s singles shuttler, said: “It was sad to know what happened and we felt the pain too. I think it was a good gesture of the team to do what they did.”
India’s men’s doubles shuttler Akshay Dewalkar had this to say: “It was a sight to behold, watching the team showing their support while the country is mourning.
“We are saddened by the tragedy too. The Malaysian team has the support of the entire Commonwealth family.”