BY: Michelle Liew
Having faced a near-death moment in a road accident in 2011, Penang swimmer Firdaus Fariduddin Noordin bounced back from his traumatic experience by winning a gold medal at the Para Sukan Malaysia (Para SUKMA) 2022 yesterday.
Firdaus stole the spotlight on the first day of the swimming event by breaking the national record and clinching gold in the S8-S9 men's 400-meter (m) freestyle event (physical disability) at the National Aquatic Center, Bukit Jalil.
Firdaus recorded 6 minutes and 05.70 seconds to erase the previous record held by Dato Anak Lamok from Sarawak who recorded 6:17.66s in the 2018 edition in Perak.
The 23-year-old athlete managed to beat Sarawak’s Emban Utik who took the silver medal by recording 6:54.79s and Mohd Helmi Jasin from Kedah with a record of 7:34.38s.
In recollecting the dark days, he experienced 11 years ago, Firdaus stated that the road accident which occurred on the North-South Highway near Bidor, Perak, resulted in him losing his left leg.
"Me, my mother and sister wanted to go on vacation in Nilai before the bus I was on hit a sand truck. After the accident, I took my mother and sister down from the bus.”
"After that, I noticed another lorry hit the bus. That's when I kept pushing my mother and sister to the side before the bus suddenly moved forward and caused the bus engine to crush and crush my left leg," he said.
Firdaus remained strong after the accident. The ridicule he received during his school days did not dampen his spirit to strive to be better.
"I didn't feel disappointed after the accident, maybe because I wasn't an adult then. After finishing school, I decided to try swimming. Alhamdulillah, thanks to the encouragement of my family and the training I've been doing all this time, it brought me to where I am today," he said.
In that regard, Firdaus, who cites American swimming legend Michael Phelps as his idol, hopes that today's achievement will pave the way for him to represent the country in the future.
The Batu Maung-born swimmer then added to his medal collection by clinching bronze in the S9 men's 100m backstroke event (physical disability) where he clocked 1:30.67s.
Jaflee Jikol from Sabah emerged as the champion by renewing his own national record of 1:20.61s compared to the previous record of 1:27.91s at a tournament last July while Selangor athlete Muhd Safwan Suhaimi took home silver (1:27.47s)