Provide ample, equal opportunities for para-athletes after they retire from sports

As Malaysia continues its battle against Covid-19 and the uncertain economy, the achievements of the nation’s para-athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics have put smiles on the faces of the people.

The nation’s heroes – Bonnie Bunyau Gustin, Jong Yee Khie and Chew Wei Lun – have earned the admiration of many, thanks to their medal-winning exploits.

Weightlifter Bonnie won the first gold medal for Malaysia after lifting 228kg in the men’s 72kg.

Jong, another weightlifter, won the silver medal in the men’s 107kg after managing a 237kg lift.

Chew also picked up a silver medal in boccia.

While these athletes were celebrated, Malaysians were also united in their anger after learning that Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli was “robbed” of his gold medal and world record (17.94m) in the shot put F20 event.

Ziyad competed under protest as he had a call room violation after he failed to turn up at the call room on time.

It was then declared that Ziyad’s achievement was not to be recorded.

So, what happens to these athletes once the Paralympic excitement dies down?

Twentytwo13’s editor Haresh Deol, in his latest column in Malay-language news website Getaran, wrote that efforts must be made to ensure para-athletes have a future to look forward to the minute they retire from sports.

“The Youth and Sports Ministry, through the National Sports Council, has programmes to ensure athletes, including para-athletes, are able to fend for themselves when they retire from sports,” wrote Haresh.

“The new Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu had spoken about plans to find career opportunities for former athletes when he met some of the members of the press at Wisma KBS on Monday.

“But this is not just the responsibility of the ministry and the relevant government agencies. The private sector must also play a part to offer job opportunities to former athletes, especially para-athletes who are able to contribute to the workforce.”

He added that a diverse work culture is important in this day in age as everyone – old, young, and special – must be given equal opportunities and be judged on their capabilities.

To read the full article, visit Getaran.my.

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