SEMPORNA: 1Malaysia English Straits Solidarity Swim expedition (RPSI1M) solo swimmer Estino Taniyu who successfully swam across the straits on September 21, received a hero’s welcome from residents here yesterday.
Leading more than 2,000 people in welcoming him at his birthplace in Kampung Bangau-Bangau was Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who is also Semporna Member of Parliament.
Estino, 24, a Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) personnel notched 13 hours, 45 minutes and 45 seconds to complete the endeavour at 10.20pm (Malaysian time) after starting from the Dover Beach in the United Kingdom at 8.41am (Malaysian time).
The event was organised by Kelab Eksplorasi Tujuh Benua Malaysia at Sandy Beach, Calaif in France.
Shafie hailed Estino as a hero, saying his accomplishment after overcoming the various challenges involved, was a pride not only to Semporna residents but also to the people of Sabah, and Malaysians in general.
In his speech, Shafie said he was proud of Estino’s achievement which could inspire youngsters to fulfil their lifelong dream.
“It is a good example to be emulated because someone from a fishing community could achieve such a feat.
“I hope the young villagers here should not feel shy but be brave to try any expedition like what Estino did. They should have self-confidence in achieving something historical in the country.
“In appreciation of Estino’s feat, our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will meet him this coming October 11 together with other swimmers,” said Shafie, who is also Umno vice president.
Meanwhile, Estino said his major challenges were the freezing waters, sea currents and merchant ships plying the straits.
“I made it through physical and mental preparation, the experience of being a village boy and the son of a fisherman and support from my team and the Malaysian army,” he said.
Estino thanked Shafie and all the people for their kind contributions and support.
Meanwhile, Kampung Bangau-Bangau chief Juak Bin Borneo also hoped the Bajau community, especially in Semporna, could one day produce athletes who will compete in Olympics, especially in swimming.