Image: The Star
For decades, we have sent our Malaysian contingent to compete at the summer Olympics and the Paralympics. Some have returned triumphant, while others gained invaluable experience.
However, have we ever heard stories about Malaysian athletes competing in the Winter Olympics, let alone the Special Olympic World Winter Games?
Well, you're about to.
This year, a group of Malaysian teenagers ended their stint at the Austria Special Winter Olympics on a high note.
They brought home three gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze
– all for snowshoeing, a sport that’s almost unheard of in Malaysia.
Also, that was their debut in the games.
Norysuhadatul Aulia Saidina Maarufi
, 17, won two gold medals in the snowshoeing race female division mixed age group (13-20 years) 100m and 200m events, while Noraini Zakaria
, 15, took home the gold for the 200m event in the 12-15 years old group.
The two silver medals were won by 17-year-old Miri lad, Danish Rosli
in the 100m and 200m snowshoeing race in the age 16 and above category.
The bronze came from a team effort by Norysuhadatul, Noraini, Danish, and Muhammad Umar Hafiy Mohd Firuz
, 14, in the 4x100m mixed group division snowshoeing relay.
Danish competing in the 100m snowshoeing event. (Image: The Star)
Norysuhadatul and Noraini have learning disabilities while Danish and Muhammad Umar are dyslexic. On top of that, Norysuhadatul is also hearing-impaired.
Here comes the mind-blowing part: they have never seen, let alone touch, snow
in their entire lives before!
They trained in sandy beaches and shallow waters to emulate snowy terrains. Fascinating, isn’t it?!
This time around, the Malaysian contingent only consisted of seven people - the four athletes, two coaches, and the Malaysian delegation head, Lam Saw Yin.
In an interview with The Star
after the event - which was held from March 14 to 25 in Ramsau, Austria - Lam hopes that they could participate in other categories in the future such as floorball or floor hockey.
The reason a small contingent was sent to compete in this year’s games, according to Lam, was due to funding constrains.
However, she told the news portal that she couldn't be more delighted by the results and thanked the coaches, sponsors, volunteers and parents who made the trip possible.
“The coaches and I are happy for the athletes because of their effort in training hard to get what they achieved,” Lam was quoted as saying.
Well done, Team Malaysia. Their perseverance and determination resulted in great success and should be an inspiration to all of us.