PETALING JAYA: If there is one thing you can’t take away from the Malaysian para athletes, it’s their passion to compete and work hard to bring success to the country.
For almost two years, most of the para athletes have been training under quarantine and have not even seen their loved ones due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But they know the sacrifice is for the biggest dream, which is the Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan, from Aug 24-Sept 5.
Paralympic Council of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman Zaharudin said the para athletes are capable of big surprises after he saw some of the shocking results at the Olympics where some top seeds were shocked, and some pulled out due to mental strain.
“We have engaged with the athletes on a daily basis, and they have not shown any signs of being under pressure. They are really hungry to compete in Tokyo, and based on the momentum that we are seeing, they are on track,” said Megat, who will also be the chef de mission.
“The National Sports Council (NSC), the National Sports Institute (NSI) and the Paralympic Council of Malaysia are always there for them. Whatever the Olympians are getting, the Paralympians are getting it too.
“We’re always assessing them psychologically, giving them the best nutrition and using the facilities in NSI. I’m sure they will give their best in Tokyo. The belief will always be there.”
Megat was at the Malaysian Paralympics Team Motivation Ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which was done virtually with athletes and sponsors of the contingent.
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal was at the event and believes the contingent have what it takes to hit new heights in Tokyo.
He expects five athletes to shine in Tokyo – double gold medallists in Rio 2016 Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli and Abdul Latif Romly (athletics); Cheah Liek Hou (badminton), S. Suresh (archery) and Bonnie Bunyau Gustin (powerlifting).
“They are carrying the hopes of many Malaysians. The target is to equal what they did in Rio, but it would be great if they can better it.
“They will compete in the month of Merdeka, and I hope they create good stories and bring good vibes.
“These athletes have already made us proud, but they can make us proud again with their performances in Japan.”
Muhammad Ziyad (F20 shot putt); Abdul Latif (long jump T20); and Bonnie (powerlifting, above 72kg) are the world record holders in their respective events, while Liek Hou is a six-time world champion and S. Suresh is the winner of the 2019 World Archery Championships in Hertogenbosch, Holland.