KUCHING: Only participants between 14 and 45 years old are allowed to compete in this year’s Para Sukma Games.
This however does not go well with Minister of Welfare, Community Well-Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, who said the games were supposed to be avenues for people with disabilities, regardless of their age, to showcase their talents and live a more meaningful live.
“We feel that as long as the athletes are interested and have big potential, there should not be an age limit,” Fatimah said during the countdown to Para Sukma Games (previously Paralympic Games) and Malaysia Deaf Persons Sports (Sopma) competitions at Grand Dormani Raja Court Hotel here yesterday.
But after discussions with the organiser, it has been agreed that five extra places would be created for participants above 45 and below 14 years each for the Para Sukma Games.
Fatimah admitted that this year’s competition would be more challenging due to the new regulation and the targeted gold medal for the Sarawak contingent.
Nonetheless, she thanked the government for the support it gave to the ministry and the fund to organise the competitions.
She also expressed her gratitude to employers of some of the participants for granting them permission to join the competitions without any pay deductions.
“Opportunities must be given to our disabled people. It will enable them to lead a quality and a meaningful life,” Fatimah told a press conference after the function.
Fatimah also thanked the government for giving the Para Sukma participants the same allowance and cash incentives as their Sukma counterparts.
The total number of participants has not been finalised yet as registration only closes on Sept 15. This year’s Sopma and Para Sukma Games will be held from Oct 15–20 and Oct 21–28 respectively in Ipoh, Perak.
The Para Sukma Games will see the Sarawak contingent competing in nine sport categories, namely badminton, chess, athletics, ping pong, ten pin bowling, boccia, swimming, archery, and power-lifting.