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Promoting para-athletes

Fadhil Yunus

In ensuring fairness to all layers of society, Brunei Darussalam promotes equality and inclusivity towards the sporting community with special needs and persons with disabilities, with vast opportunities for para-athletes to grow and develop both in the regional and international scene.

The country has actively sent para-athletes to compete in major international meets such as the ASEAN Para Games, Asian Para Games and the Special Olympics World Games in the past.

In previous years, a number of national para-athletes have excelled on the global stage, which is notably evident with podium finishes especially in athletics and bowling.

Brunei has enjoyed a series of accomplishments and has been ranked on par or better against traditionally performing nations.

One of the Sultanate’s recent successes came at the Arafura Games in April 2019 when national para athlete Hirdan bin Haji Abdul Kadir bagged a gold medal in the men’s open javelin wheelchair event and bronze in the men’s open seated wheelchair shotput.

The country also produced an impressive performance in the Special Olympic World Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2019 when they amassed a total of one gold, two silver and four bronze medals.

Brunei’s sole gold medalist in the male 200m run Muhammad Haziman Azrul bin Muhd Nuruddin demonstrated the array of talent in the country.

The country’s athletics’ representatives enjoyed a successful showing as Nur Amal Rashidah binti Pengiran Abdul Rahman and Hizam Budiman anak Kasin clinched silver.

The bronze medalists at the meet were Amal Farwizah binti Haji Ibrahim in the shotput, Hizam Budiman in the 200m run, Nurhafizatul Irdina binti Saini in the female 200m run and the Brunei MIB Team in the team category of dance sports.

As of the most recent Asian Para Games in 2018, statistics showed that Brunei Darussalam had won two silver and four bronze medals since the inception of the competition in 2010.

Brunei’s finest moment came in the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China when they secured two silver and two bronze medals.

The country’s leading para-athletes Sahri bin Haji Jumaat and Hirdan bin Haji Abdul Kadir secured a historic silver and bronze respectively in the javelin throw F54-F56 category.

In the women’s 100m T12 category, An Nur Haiyyu Yusof etched her name in the record books after clinching the silver medal.

Brunei’s Norhensan binti Haji Md Taha secured the bronze medal in the discus throw F12 category.

Meanwhile, in the ASEAN Para Games the country collected a total of 37 gold medals, 43 silver and 62 bronze as of 2017, placing them eighth in the all-time medal table ahead of Cambodia, Timor Leste and Laos.

The country achieved an overall haul of two gold medals, six silver and six bronze during their most recent participation in the Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.

The men’s pairing of Kamarul Ariffin Abdul Ghaffar and Saidin bin Haji Damit won the gold medal in bowling, while Alihan Muda won gold in the athletics’ event as a single competitor.

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted the ability for para-athletes to perform competitively, as competitions all around the globe were cancelled.

With the ASEAN Para Games having been poised to be the athletes’ main target at the start of 2020, training had initially been conducted intensively including gym sessions at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

Preparations had been at the latter stages when the host country of the most recent ASEAN Para Games Philippines was confronted with a multitude of challenges dominated by the pandemic.

The global health crisis prompted an uncertain future in sports, ultimately leading not just the cancellation of the region’s premier multi-sport showpiece but also other major tournaments.

The para-athletes had been on course to resume their participation at an international meet, but they were made to wait to make another appearance.

Last August, the Paralympic Council of Brunei Darussalam (PCBD) at an executive committee unanimously decided not to join any overseas tournaments including the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Two para-athletes – Sahri bin Haji Jumaat and Norhensan binti Haji Md Taha had been initially selected to represent the country at one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

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