BY: Michelle Liew
National powerlifting champion, Bonnie Bunyau Gustin and athlete Siti Nooriasah Mohamad Ariffin were chosen as the bearers of the Jalur Gemilang for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo which will commence on 24 August.
Malaysian Paralympic Council (MPM) president Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman Zaharudin said the two selected athletes symbolized the diversity of races in Malaysia apart from the selection being made based on their previous achievements.
“Bonnie is an athlete of Bidayuh descent from Sarawak while Siti Nooriasah is a Malay female athlete.”
“It can be seen that although Malaysia has a population comprising of various races and religions, we want to show the world that we are all united,” he said.
Megat D Shahriman, who is also the Head of the Malaysian Contingent for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, stated that Bonnie was selected based on his reputation as a world champion and world record holder in the 72 kilograms (kg) and above category whereas Siti Nooriasah finished fourth in the women’s 400 meters T20 during the Rio 2016 edition.
Besides being an emerging champion, Bonnie managed to break the world record at the 11th Fazza Dubai Powerlifting World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last June when he managed to lift a weight of 230kg, emulating the record held by Iranian athlete Roohallah Rostami who record was 229kg at the Asia Para Games in Indonesia in 2018.
Meanwhile, Megat D Shahriman informed that the preparations for the Malaysian contingent went smoothly. He reminded the athletes to always take care of their health and adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the organizers.
At the same time, he expects every athlete to be mentally and physically ready to compete in their respective events and immediately adapt to the atmosphere of the games in Japan later.
Apart from Bonnie and Siti Nooriasah, joining the team are three other athletes including Rio 2016 gold medalist Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli (athletics), 2019 world champion, S Suresh (archery) and 2017 ASEAN Para Games gold medal winner Abu Samah Borhan (wheelchair tennis). Together they will take part in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremony.
Megat D Shahriman, two medical officers and two secretariat staff are also expected to join the parade at the event at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which is scheduled to end on September 5, will see the Malaysian contingent lined up with 22 athletes competing in nine different sports.