Thursday September 13, 2012
Paralympic contingent receive a warm welcome at KLIA
SEPANG: The Malaysian Paralympic contingent received a warm welcome despite arriving from London early in the morning at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday.
When flight MH001 touched down at 5.28am, more than 100 people, including officials from the National Sports Council (NSC), parents of the athletes, supporters and also students from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) were there to welcome the Malaysian contingent.
Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah also accompanied the 23 Malaysian athletes from London.
The Malaysian contingent returned home with one silver and one bronze.
Silver medallist Hasihin Sanawi (archery) and bronze medallist Mohd Ziyad Zolkefli (shot putt) showed off their medals as they entered the arrival hall.
The BJSS students also carried a banner that read “Your success make us proud to be Malaysians.”
Ziyad said he was touched by the show of support and solidarity by the people of Malaysia.
“It’s really nice to see so many people here cheering for us. They carried banners that read we are the heroes of the country.
“This really makes us happy, knowing that our contributions are appreciated,” said Ziyad, who received bouquet of flowers from his supporters.
Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim said that they would conduct a post-mortem of the athletes’ performances in the Paralympic Games in London.
“Although the Paralympic athletes have equalled the achievement of the able-bodied athletes in the London Olympics (a silver and a bronze), we should work towards winning our first gold medal in the next Paralympics in four years’ time.
“We are happy that Ziyad, who was our flagbearer in London Paralympics, not only won the bronze medal but also improved on his personal best,” said Razali.
The 22-year-old Ziyad, who is from Gombak, Selangor, cleared 15.21m in the shot putt event in the F20 category. The gold was won by Australian Todd Hodgetts (16.29m) and silver by Sweden’s Jeffrey Ige (15.50m).
All three winners broke the 12-year-old record of 13.10m set by Krzysztof Kaczmarek of Poland at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000.
Razali hoped that the achievements of Hasihin and Ziyad would encourage more disabled people to take up sports.
“The disabled athletes who won medals at the Paralympic will get incentives ... hopefully this will encourage more disabled people to take up sports.
“We have upgraded the facilities and equipment at the sports complex in Kampung Pandan for disabled athletes and this will be the first step towards helping the athletes to do well in sports,” said Razali.
Zolkples, meanwhile, announced that Hasihin and Ziyad would get the same monthly allowance enjoyed by shuttler Lee Chong Wei and diver Pandelela Rinong.
Chong Wei and Pandelela won a silver and a bronze respectively in the London Games.
Zolkples also revealed that Malaysia will host the third edition of the Asian Youth Para Games next year.
“Hosting the Asian Youth Para Games will be a step towards preparing our athletes to win the first gold medal in the next Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016,” Zolkples said.