SAMARAHAN: Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah has highlighted the importance of Special Olympics State Games in helping to develop sports among the Special Olympics community.
She is also hoping that it will also promote a greater awareness and closer attention from the general public on Special Olympics.
“Let’s give our whole support and encouragement to those who are participating in this Special Olympics State Games because it will make them feel appreciated, respected, well treated and acknowledged of their achievements,” Fatimah said at the opening of the Special Olympics State Games at Stadium Unimas yesterday.
Her text of speech was read by Assistant Minister of Community Well Being Datuk Francis Harden Hollis.
“On behalf of the Ministry, I am very proud because we have succeeded in organising the event on a large scale this year.
“Special Olympics is mainly aimed at giving happiness to those mentally challenged people by getting them actively involved in sports.
“It provides sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“These activities give them continuous opportunities to develop their physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship,” added Fatimah. “Whether it is in Malaysia or in the world, Special Olympics’ prime focus is that the involvement of the athletes is our top priority so that they can showcase their talents and capabilities while enjoying the games with the other athletes,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fatimah commended organising chairperson Datin Dayang Mariani Abang Zain, her committee, Unimas, sponsors and others for organising the Games which she said was not an easy task.
Also present were Unimas deputy vice chancellor cum research and innovation deputy president Prof Dr Wan Hashim Wan Ibrahim who represented Unimas deputy chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid, Special Olympics deputy president Jason Tai, Special Olympics Sarawak Kuching Chapter president Datin Dayang Mariani Abang Zain and representatives of the sponsors.
A total of 212 athletes from Miri, Sibu and Kuching are participating in this fifth edition of the Games in various events such as athletics (track and field), tenpin bowling, football, swimming and bocce.
One hundred and seventy-seven of the athletes underwent health screening yesterday under the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Programme headed by programme director Prof Dr Toh Teck Hock who is Special Olympics Asia Pacific regional clinical advisor.
Toh, who is in charge of the screening under MedFest, is being assisted by six other clinical directors Koa Ai Ling (Health Promotion), Catherine Wong (Fun Fitness), Dr Wong Chya Wei (Fit Feet), Dr Lorend Telajan (Special Smiles), Dr Chieng Lee Ling (Opening Eyes) and Dr Ong Cheng Ai (Healthy Hearing).