KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is set a target of three gold medals at the 10th International Abilympics in Moscow, Russia next year where 15 talented persons with disabilities (PWDs) will represent the country.
Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation (MCR) president Datin Khatijah Suleiman said that the expectations were high on the participants who will compete in 15 categories at the championships, including floral arrangement, computer assembly, embroidery, cooking and photography.
"In France in 2016, we got four medals. With the intensive training given to our participants joining the competition next year, I'm positive that they will be able to do it.
"I'm targeting for Malaysia to get three gold medals. If possible, I wish for us to get a medal for each category," she told reporters after a fundraising high tea for the 10th International Abilympics participants at a hotel here Sunday (June 23).
Khatijah said that if the participants managed to achieve great success at the competition next year, she hoped that this would be complemented with acknowledgement from their employers and the Government.
"Why not employers give them a better posts or pay raises?
"I hope that the Government will also look into how it can provide incentives to such people, to provide them with stable jobs or to create business opportunities for them.
"They have the skills, we must give them the opportunities," she said.
While Khatijah admitted that the Abilympics was not as well known as the Paralympics, she stressed that it was important to give encouragement to the PWD participants as some had won medals for the country before.
"I ask the Government to look into the reasons why these PWDs who have skills and potential are not given acknowledgement," she said.
MCR is the coordinating body responsible for organising the Abilympics Competition, a national skills competition to select participants to represent Malaysia at the International Abilympics competition.
The Abilympics, or the Olympics of Abilities, are vocational skill competitions for PWDs, held every four years with the first International Abilympics held in Tokyo, Japan in 1981.
Malaysia had its best performance in the 2016 edition, where it clinched one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the championships held in Bordeaux, France.
Meanwhile, the participants for the 10th International Abilympics to be held in September 2020, are determined to do their best to make the nation proud in Moscow next year.
Civil servant Amran Hamid, 40, who won a bronze medal in the silk hand painting category in Bordeaux in 2016, hoped to win a gold medal next year.
"I will do my best and fix my past weaknesses. I will try to get a gold medal for the country," said Amran, who has a physical impairment.
Civil servant Khairunnisa Johari, 31, who will be competing in the words processing category, hoped to score a medal next year after finishing in seventh place in the same category in 2016.
"This would be my second time joining. I will do my best and I hope to bring back a medal for Malaysia. At the very least, I hope to finish among the top three," said Khairunnisa, who also has a physical impairment.
Wan Muhammad Hafizunif Wan Roslan, 23, who is hearing impaired, will be representing Malaysia in the cake decoration category and said that he has been training hard to prepare for the contest.
"It will be my first time joining the event. I will do my best to win so that I can make the country proud.
"I want to prove that people with hearing impairment can do it. Malaysia boleh, and so can those with hearing impairment," said Wan Muhammad Hafizunif through an interpreter.