KUCHING: The cold rain beating down upon the Stadium Sarawak track did not dampen the spirits of the participants as they proudly march on at the opening of the 21st Asia Masters Athletics Championship (AMAC) yesterday.
Athletes aged 35 and above including former Olympians are taking part in the AMAC until Dec 7.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was on hand to personally welcome the 3,000 athletes and officials from 29 countries to Sarawak.
“To all the competitors, I wish you all the best. Run well, jump well and throw well with great sportsmanship that can showcase good examples to the younger generation,” Abang Johari said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah reiterated the state government’s support for sporting events such as the AMAC.
“The state government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, has always been supportive in organising sporting events simply because it promotes noble values among the people as well as promotes a healthy lifestyle.
“As such, Sarawak is no stranger in the organising of numerous international sporting events because our state government has invested a lot of funds in the construction of international-standard sports facilities and stadiums. It goes without saying that the state government has given emphasis on the development of local sports and games so that more people are keen to take up sports as their healthy lifestyle,” he said in his speech.
The opening ceremony also saw the torch brought into the satdium to signify the commencement of the championship. The unprecedented Torch Run had started on Nov 24 in Singapore, venue of the inaugural forerunner of AMAC in 1981.
The Malaysian contingent comprised about 330 athletes.
Also present at the ceremony were Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Sarawak Sports Corporation CEO Dr Ong Kong Swee, World Masters Athletics president Margit Jungman, Asia Masters Athletics president Viwat Vigrantanoros and Malaysian Masters Athletic Association president S. Sivapragasam.