The Tokyo Paralympics have drawn to a close after 12 days of inspirational performances and record-breaking achievements from the global participants.
For the Malaysian contingent, it was a case of ‘Mission Accomplished’ – having hit our target of three gold medals which we won in badminton, powerlifting and the men’s long jump.
Our Para athletes also delivered two silvers in boccia and powerlifting to cap a successful campaign overall in Tokyo.
But its not just at the Paralympics that our Para athletes have been delivering results. They’ve been leaving their mark on the world stage for years…it's just that we’ve not really taken notice.
Powerlifting gold medalist Bonnie Bunyau Gustin, for example, holds the world record in the men’s over-72kg category, which he set at the Para Powerlifting World Cup earlier this year.
Archer S. Suresh, who unfortunately did not bring home a medal from Tokyo, was the 2019 world champion.
Ziyad Zolkefli, who was unlucky to be disqualified in Tokyo, is a two-time former shot-put world champion, Asian and ASEAN Para Games gold medallist and a Paralympic gold medallist from Rio 2016.
While shuttler Cheah Liek Hou, who won the first ever Paralympic gold medal in badminton, is an 11-time (count that…ELEVEN) winner at the Para Badminton World Championships.
So you see, while most of the attention tends to be given to our Olympic competitors, our Para athletes have also been giving 100% - whether they make the headlines or not. They work just as hard and have achieved just as much (in some cases, even more) than their able-bodied compatriots.
This is why support for our Para athletes is so crucial… and we’re on the right track for the most part.
Successful Malaysian Paralympians currently receive the same financial reward and pension that our Olympic medallists are entitled to.
Its now up to officials, sports bodies and even the Malaysian public to ensure that our Para Athletes get everything else they need to succeed…be it financial, technical and moral support.
By: Nicholas Darren John