SEPANG: Powerlifter Bonnie Bunyau Gustin (pic) has Tokyo on his mind.
The 20-year-old made the nation proud when he bagged gold in the men’s up to 65kg category at the World Para Powerlifting Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week.
The Sarawak-born Bonnie opened with a 185kg lift before progressing to 197kg and 207kg to take his first major senior title and an automatic Paralympic ticket to Tokyo.
His 207kg effort was also a new world junior record.
“I never expected to win the gold with such strong competitors in my category. But I believed in myself, in my hard work and discipline,” said Bonnie.
“I will train harder to bring glory to the country at the Tokyo Paralympics,” said Bonnie, who finished sixth in the previous world meet in Mexico two years ago.
The win came as a pleasant surprise as he was competing against the likes of reigning Rio Paralympic champion Paul Kehinde of Nigeria and China’s world champion Liu Lei.
Kehinde left the stage after three invalid lifts while Liu Lei was placed fourth with 190kg.
Algeria’s Hocine Bettir (194kg) claimed silver and Iranian Amir Jafari Arangeh (193kg) picked up the bronze.
Bonnie, whose father Gustin Jenang is also a national powerliftter, thanked his coach Jamil Adam for his calming presence.
“I was a bit intimidated looking at the field as I had two world-class rivals for company (Kehinde and Liu Lei).
“But my coach told me not to be afraid and to just focus on my performance.
“He encouraged me non-stop in between lifts,” said Bonnie, who also bagged the gold in the junior category up to 65kg.